Bandcamp United, the union representing Bandcamp employees, has filed an Unfair Labour Practice claim against Songtradr and Epic Games on Sunday (29 October).
Bandcamp United’s filing with the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) accuses Songtradr of discriminating against employees on the basis of their labour activity. According to documents, “Within the previous six months, the Employer refused to hire an employee(s) because the employee(s) joined or supported a labour organisation and in order to discourage union activities or membership.”
About half of the firm’s workforce have been laid off following Songtradr’s acquisition of Bandcamp from previous owner Epic Games, including all eight elected members of their bargaining committee.
“I voted for our collective bargaining committee to represent the needs of my colleagues to Bandcamp management,” Rochelle Shipman, a bargaining unit member, said in a statement. “There has been little transparency from Epic and Songtradr about their decision-making criteria throughout this process, and it’s hard to see how this hiring decision could have been made randomly.”
According to NLRB’s website, a decision will typically be made after 7 to 14 weeks of investigation.
Songtradr previously attributed the layoffs at Bandcamp to increased operating costs, adding that it “required some adjustments to maintain a “sustainable and healthy company”.
The move has sparked considerable backlash on social media among Bandcamp employees, Bandcamp users and musicians who rely on the site to sell their music.
Instagram artist Fermata Ark took to the platform to write: “The underground is the lifeblood of mainstream music, and it needs to exist within a community. It needs to be supported by the people who actually see its value and not by annoying tech-bro CEOs who equate their success in one area of their life as something that can extend to anything they can afford to buy.”
“You can’t buy community, I hope they know what they now hold in their hands.”
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