Following an election in August in which workers voted against recognizing a union at DC geospatial software company Mapbox, union members said they experienced retaliation from company leadership.
“After our election, Mapbox execs promised that there would be no retaliation against organizers. That was a lie,” the Mapbox Workers Union (MWU) wrote in a Sept. 22 Twitter thread addressing the topic. “The retaliation has already started at Mapbox. Organizers are being fired on flimsy excuses, others are being intimidated and threatened.”
After our election, @Mapbox execs promised that there would be no retaliation against organizers. That was a lie.
The retaliation has already started at Mapbox. Organizers are being fired on flimsy excuses, others are being intimidated and threatened. /
— Mapbox Workers Union (@MapboxUnion) September 22, 2021
The thread goes on to say that union members were allegedly fired after receiving unexpectedly poor performance reviews. When the issue was brought up to Mapbox management, the union said, leadership denied any retaliation against the union and said the firings were part of regularly scheduled performance reviews and the results had nothing to do with union efforts. As a result, the union says it will be filing an unfair labor practice charge against the company, as it alleges the actions are illegal under the National Labor Relations Act.
A spokesperson for the union told Technical.ly that the union was unable to speak with a reporter on the topic until the labor charge moved forward due to the “significant retaliation workers are facing internally at the company right now.”
The Mapbox unionization effort is the latest sign of rising interest in labor union representation among workers at tech companies.
After filing to start a union in July, the company held an election in August, when Mapbox workers declined to voluntarily recognize the union. At the time, the union lost its bid, with 123 employees voting against unionization and 81 voting in favor (Mapbox has 222 employees total, centered in DC and California). Two-thirds of employees, however, had previously signed union cards with partner Communication Workers of America, Bloomberg reported.
“Today’s vote — rejecting the union — will allow us to recommit to our values and ensure that we continue to be a business that succeeds because of our diverse and innovative global team,” CEO Peter Sirota said in a statement in August.
According to MWU, the decline in support from employees was due to anti-union efforts from Mapbox ahead of the vote, including anti-union Slack messages and meetings. Following the loss, the union said it would continue unifying workers’ voices and providing a safe space for employees’ concerns.
At the time, Mapbox was also reportedly in talks to go public via a deal with SVF Investment Corp. 3, a special purpose acquisition company backed by Softbank, that would have valued the company at $2 billion. Neither Softbank nor Mapbox have given any update on the deal, first announced this spring, although sources alleged to SkyNews that the pair called it off.
Currently, it is unclear whether or not workers will be continuing to push for unionization. Communication Workers of America and MWU both declined to answer whether or not their partnership continues or if there were any future plans to continue unionization efforts.
Mapbox did not respond to a request for comment on the merit of the retaliation reports.
According to MWU, the company is not acknowledging future unionization efforts. Members were asked to take down the MWU Twitter page and website, as well as refrain from using union icons in Slack and union backgrounds in meetings, the thread states, because leadership said Mapbox does not have a union.
“They are wrong,” the union wrote. “There is a union at Mapbox. Mapbox executives want us to stay quiet, because they’re afraid of workers talking about what’s happening at our company. “