Bandcamp United, the union representing Bandcamp workers, on Sunday filed an Unfair Labor Practice violation with the National Labor Relation Board against Songtradr, which acquired Bandcamp from Epic Games in September.
Bandcamp United claims that Songtradr and Epic Games discriminated against workers on the basis of labor activity by not offering jobs to any of the eight members of the Collective Bargaining Committee, the workers who were democratically elected by their fellow union members to represent them in negotiations with management.
According to Bandcamp United’s filing with the NLRB in California, where Songtradr is based, “Within the previous six months, the Employer refused to hire an employee(s) because the employee(s) joined or supported a labor organization and in order to discourage union activities or membership.”
“I voted for our Collective Bargaining Committee to represent the needs of my colleagues to Bandcamp management,” Rochelle Shipman, a Bandcamp United bargaining unit member, said in a statement provided to 404 Media. “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.”
The fact that Bandcamp United filed the charge does not mean the NLRB will take action against Songtradr, but it could after an investigation of the claims.
Songtradr did not immediately respond to 404 Media’s request for comment.
“On September 28, Epic Games announced the sale of Bandcamp to Songtradr, Inc. In an internal announcement to staff, Epic Games wrote that Songtradr, Inc. would be offering positions to some Bandcamp employees but not all,” Bandcamp United said in a statement about the unfair labor practice charge. “On October 12, the Collective Bargaining Committee along with their lead negotiator from OPEIU [which Bandcamp United is affiliated with] met with Songtradr CEO Paul Wiltshire to discuss the future of Bandcamp United at Songtradr. Four days later, all workers at Bandcamp were informed that the deal with Songtradr, Inc. was closed and no other workers would get offers, including all eight democratically-elected members of the Collective Bargaining Committee.”
404 Media first reported about the meeting between the bargaining committee and Wilshire earlier this month. At the time, Songtradr told 404 Media that “Songtradr had no access to union membership information and we executed our employment offer process with full-consideration of all legal requirements.” Songtradr also said that "US employees were extended based on the factors we previously described before we knew the composition of or met with any bargaining team members."
Epic Games, the company that owns the Unreal Engine, Epic Games Store, and in recent years has seen incredible profits thanks to the huge popularity of Fortnite, acquired Bandcamp in 2022. At the time, Epic said that Bandcamp would “play an important role in Epic’s vision to build out a creator marketplace ecosystem for content, technology, games, art, music and more.” The union, Bandcamp United, won recognition in May 2023 through an election administered by the NLRB.
In September, a little more than a year after Epic acquired Bandcamp, Songtradr announced that it will acquire Bandcamp as Epic cut around 830 jobs across the company. Epic and Songtradr agreed to an “asset sale” of Bandcamp, meaning Songtradr is only buying parts of Bandcamp as opposed to the entire company. As part of this process, Epic has laid off about half of Bandcamp’s staff, the other half of the staff have accepted job offers to work on Bandcamp at Songtradr.