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Grindr Issues Mandatory Return to Office Policy 2 Weeks After Union Drive

“Our vision for Grindr is one of safety, security, and respect for our workplace,” a Grindr employee said.

The logo of the dating app Grindr is shown on the display of a smartphone on April 22, 2020.

Two weeks after workers at Grindr announced their intention to unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the company’s management issued a mandatory return-to-office (RTO) policy.

A supermajority of Grindr employees, many of whom identify as LGBTQ, unionized with CWA to combat the tech lay-offs that have plagued the sector, to shield existing work benefits, including remote work and trans-inclusive health care, and to bargain for better working conditions, including greater transparency in pay to address wage disparities.

“We want a strong Grindr. We want a successful Grindr that works for all the people who use it as a welcoming place for the whole LGBTQ community. And we want to build it together,” Quinn McGee, a trust and safety product manager and organizer at Grindr United CWA, told Motherboard.

Workers were told during an all-hands meeting that they were going to be required to either move to within 50 miles of their newly designated office or lose their jobs. It was the first time workers had heard from management since the union drive was announced.

“We announced our union on July 20 and then we heard literally nothing from Grindr management until Thursday, when they announced that we all had two weeks to decide whether we were going to move across the country or get fired,” McGee said. “As soon as George [Arison, Grindr’s CEO] stopped talking, one of my colleagues began to ask a question about all of us suddenly having to uproot our lives — and they cut the call.”

The CWA has alleged in an unfair labor practice complaint filed Friday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that the company issued the return-to-office policy in retaliation for the union drive.

“This decision threatens the livelihoods of dozens of workers who do not live near their assigned team’s office. Additionally, the RTO announcement undermines the ongoing efforts of workers to form a union,” CWA said in a statement. “Grindr’s RTO policy places an undue burden on the company’s trans employees by forcing them to relocate and reestablish the security, health resources and more that have been painstakingly curated in their current locations.”

Grindr has thus far refused to voluntarily recognize the union and has hired notorious union-buster Littler Mendelson, the law firm behind the illegal anti-worker campaigns at Starbucks and Apple.

“Our vision for Grindr is one of safety, security, and respect for our workplace and our users around the world,” Jack Alto, staff software engineer, told Truthout in an email. “Grindr management should rescind their damaging and retaliatory RTO/relocation order, recognize our union, and come to the bargaining table with us in good faith. Not just because it’s the law, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

Last year, it was revealed that Grindr CEO George Arison supported conservative politicians including Virginia Republican Glenn Youngkin, who has backed various anti-LGBTQ policies as governor, including restricting gender-affirming care for transgender youth, and supported “some Trump policies.”

“This urgent need [to unionize] is further underscored by revelations surrounding the new CEO’s previous support of anti-LGBTQIA+ politicians on Twitter and via political donations,” Grindr workers told the Advocate.

Grindr has also been in hot water over the past few years for failing to properly protect users’ privacy. In 2018, it was uncovered that the company shared users’ HIV status with third party advertisers. In 2021, the company was fined about $7.1 million by Norway’s Data Protection Authority for again selling users’ highly sensitive data to advertisers. This summer, Ron De Jesus, a Grindr executive who alleges that he was fired in retaliation for raising concerns regarding the company’s “alarming” data-privacy practices, accused the company of retaining users’ personal data, including sexually explicit images, which were accessible by any employee or third-party vendor.

“These demands aim to create a fair and inclusive work environment that values workers’ contributions, protects the current vibrant LGBTQIIA+ culture within the company and upholds workers’ rights,” CWA said in a statement. “A protected union voice on the job will help the workers ensure that Grindr is investing in trusted safety features and partnering with global and local governments to protect the queer community from which the company benefits.”

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