Group of workers at Citizen, the controversial real-time crime alert app, vote to unionize

The Communications Workers of America confirmed that “a strong majority” of roughly 70 eligible workers voted to join its union in a National Labor Relations Board election, according to its spokesperson Beth Allen. The results, first reported by Bloomberg News, are yet to be certified by the NLRB — that’s the next step before the union negotiates a contract with Citizen.

According to a filing with the NLRB, full-time and regular part-time employees within the company’s central operations department were eligible to cast votes. The department is responsible for distilling police and other dispatches into real-time alerts and sharing them with users near those incidents.

The labor fight comes on the heels of a wave of negative headlines garnered by Citizen and its CEO, Andrew Frame. Earlier this year, the company, for the first time, put a $30,000 bounty on information leading to the arrest of an alleged arson suspect. However, the person was not responsible for the fire. The four-year-old startup had used a new product in its app called OnAir to broadcast the information about the suspect, but said it failed to follow its own verification protocols before circulating the information.For the workers, the decision to unionize was reportedly out of fear of job loss in response to outsourced work to contractors. The workers first filed a petition with the NLRB in September indicating their desire to unionize. The CWA union represents hundreds of thousands of workers at public and private companies including CNN’s parent company AT&T.

“Citizen will move forward in our mission of making our users’ world a safer place,” Citizen said in a statement. “While we are assessing next steps on this initial tally, what we know now is that we’ve grown through this process, learning how we can better work together to deliver for our users.”

Citizen, which has raised $132 million from well-known venture capital firms including Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and Sequoia Capital, said it has roughly 200 employees.

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