Bandcamp United — a group of Bandcamp workers from various parts of the company who legally voted to unionize — has filed an Unfair Labor Practice violation against Songtradr, which purchased the company in September 2023 from Epic Games, which in turn bought the company just about 18 months ago.
To recap that timeline, for those keeping score at home:
- March 2022: Epic Games purchases Bandcamp;
- March 2023: Bandcamp workers vote to unionize;
- September 2023: Epic Games sells Bandcamp to SongTradr;
- October 2023: SongTradr lays off roughly half of the staff they acquired when they purchased Bandcamp, including a disproportionate number of Black workers, while refusing to recognize the union that they also agreed to purchase with the rest of the company.
In addition to being very possibly racist, those layoffs also curiously impacted eight members of the union's elected bargaining committee, as well as nearly 2/3 of the workers in the bargaining unit.
I gotta say: for a business that prides itself on being a thoughtful, equitable alternative to the leeches at all of the other digital music services — this ain't a good look! Did I mention the Bandcamp Editorial Director who went on an Instagram tirade about the Union back in May? As 404Media reported:
A senior Bandcamp manager, J. Edward Keyes, the company's editorial director, publicly opposed his coworkers' decision to unionize in May, saying that they are "privileged tech workers cosplaying as Amazon warehouse workers," according to Keyes' Instagram posts viewed by 404 Media.
"There is a strong piece in white-collar tech workers who make north of 70k a year appropriating the language of the legitimately oppressed for anyone with the guts to write it," Keyes wrote in an Instagram stories post in May, shortly after Bandcamp workers voted 31 – 7, overwhelmingly in favor of forming a union. "TL;DR: Fuuuuuck Bandcamp United."
According to an email viewed by 404 Media, Keyes apologized to Bandcamp staff for his statement but did not refer to the union specifically. In the email, Keyes also said that Epic had "written up" the incident and that it was noted in his "HR file."
And that brings us to the Unfair Labor Practice Violation!
Bandcamp United files Unfair Labor Practice violation claim against Songtradr and Epic Games [Raphael Helfand / The Fader]andcam