**Grindr Faces Allegations of Punishing Unionizing Employees with New Return-to-Office Policy**
Grindr, the LGBTQ dating company, has been accused by workers of using a new return-to-office policy as a means to retaliate against employees attempting to unionize. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board, stating that the company has placed restrictions on remote work and has threatened termination unless employees live close to or relocate to an in-person office. This action by Grindr is believed to be a response to the union drive announced by workers on July 20. Grindr has not yet commented on the allegations.
Unjustified Physical Presence Requirement
Jack Alto, a Grindr software engineer and member of the union’s organizing committee, expressed his disagreement with the notion that a digital product like Grindr should necessitate a physical presence. He pointed out that remote work has proven to be successful over the past few years. Many employees are also inconvenienced by the new policy, especially those who live far away from the designated office locations. Trans staff, in particular, may face challenges in finding new healthcare providers.
**Tension Over Return-to-Office Policies**
The issue of return-to-office policies has become a point of contention between companies and their employees. AT&T Inc., for instance, recently informed 60,000 managers that they must work in person at one of nine locations, leading some employees to believe that the move is an attempt to downsize staff. Moreover, companies in certain states risk losing tax incentives if employees do not regularly show up at the office. Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, has also announced that office attendance will now be considered in performance reviews.
The CWA’s Previous Complaint against Alphabet
The CWA had previously filed a complaint against Alphabet and one of its staffing firms in January, accusing them of using return-to-office policies to undermine a unionization campaign at YouTube Music. This complaint is still pending, with both companies refuting the allegations.
Complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are initially investigated by regional officials. If the allegations are found to be valid and a settlement cannot be reached, the officials can prosecute the case before an agency judge. The judge’s rulings are subject to appeal, first to the NLRB members in Washington, and then to a federal appeals court.
Grindr’s Coercive Measures
According to Jack Alto, Grindr’s return-to-office policy represents a coercive and drastic measure intended to undermine the unionization campaign. The proposed relocation will pose significant challenges for employees who currently live far from the designated office locations. In particular, trans staff may encounter difficulties in finding new healthcare providers. The primary goals of the union drive include obtaining new benefits, protecting existing benefits, safeguarding against potential layoffs, and securing representation on the company’s board. The workers have requested voluntary recognition of their union, as they claim to have overwhelming support from approximately 100 employees in the proposed bargaining unit.
While management has not publicly addressed the organizing drive, a company spokesperson stated, “We respect our employees’ rights and point of view, and we will continue to work together to make Grindr a great place to work for all.” In a memo to employees, CEO George Arison mentioned the extensive planning of the return-to-office plan by executives over several months. According to the memo, employees in product management and design, engineering, and marketing will be expected to return to the office within 60 days. The CEO expressed excitement about the prospect of spending more time in person with the employees to achieve audacious goals and exceptional execution.
**The Remote Work Debate**
Although many companies offered incentives such as free food and happy hours to encourage employees to return to the office, the shift towards coercive measures has increased in recent months. Working from home, however, remains a contentious issue. A study led by Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom revealed that 46% of US employees with the ability to work remotely had a hybrid schedule between March and June, while 19% worked fully remote. The share of companies mandating full-time office attendance has declined in the second quarter, according to a survey by Scoop, a company specializing in managing hybrid workforces.