Employees at NPM, a startup that provides a crucial service for 11 million software developers, have signed an open letter demanding better working conditions


Isaac Schlueter_npm
npm cofounder Isaac Schlueter

NPM

  • 17 employees of startup NPM have signed an open letter demanding better working conditions. It employed 53 people in total as of April.
  • NPM provides JavaScript tools to over 11 million developers — a service that is crucial to how many web pages and applications are built and maintained.
  • In March, NPM faced a backlash from employees and users for its handling of the layoff of 5 employees. It was later reported that three of those employees complained to authorities that they had been laid off after pushing for a union at the company.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

More than a dozen employees at NPM, a startup that provides crucial services for some 11 million software developers, have signed an open letter calling on management to improve working conditions at the company, Business Insider has learned.

The letter, signed by 17 NPM employees, blames the company’s leadership for undermining morale at the small, Oakland, Calif. tech company through a series of policies enacted by recently-hired CEO Bryan Bogensberger.

“In the past month, actions and inactions by current management have led to a 20% decline in npm staff,” reads the letter, which was distributed to employees throughout the company on Wednesday. As of April, the company said it had 53 employees.

“This trend shows no sign of slowing following a continued lack of transparency into the financial health of the company, the deletion of the employee handbook, the lack of cost-of-living raises, and the lack of accountability in the treatment of remaining staff,” says the open letter.

You can read the full open letter below.

NPM does not have the mainstream name recognition of consumer-facing tech companies like Facebook or Google, but it is well-known in the software developer community. The company provides JavaScript tools to over 11 million developers, forming a service that is crucial to how many web pages and applications are built and maintained.

The open letter comes in the wake of unrest among NPM’s workforce, triggered by the controversial layoff of 5 employees, asthe Register first reported.

Last year NPM hired Bogensberger to be its new CEO, giving him a mandate to accelerate the company’s business. In total, NPM has raised $18.93 million from investors including True Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners.

The company likes to joke that the letters of its name stand for “nice people matter,” and often says that “compassion is our strategy,” but employees and observers in the community both criticized NPM for what they saw as a mishandling of the situation.The Register later reportedthat three of those five laid-off employees complained to the National Labor Relations Board that they had been singled out for trying to form a union at NPM.

In ablog post in Aprilfollowing the Register’s original report, NPM management apologized for its handling of the layoffs, and described the incident as the result of growing pains as it moves to build a sustainable business.

“Change will be constant as we grow. We will work hard to uphold our values every day,” the company said in its statement at the time.

NPM did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on the open letter.

Here is the entire letter, which was signed by 17 employees:

We’re the Support department of the largest JavaScript registry in the world. Together we support over one million users of the registry, CLI, Orgs, and Enterprise products. We embody the heart of “npm

In the past month, actions and inactions by current management have led to a 20% decline in npm staff. This trend shows no sign of slowing following a continued lack of transparency into the financial health of the company, the deletion of the employee handbook, the lack of cost-of-living raises, and the lack of accountability in the treatment of remaining staff.

We respectfully demand the following be reinstated or honored:

  • Any employee asked to work outside of normal business hours in their chosen time zone must give uncoerced consent
  • Any employee required to work a company holiday or National Holiday for their country of residence must be given time and a half pay
  • Any employee required to work hours or shifts outside of their normal weekly total will be permitted to take time off equivalent to that amount without utilizing PTO or STO hours
  • Each employee will be eligible for a minimum 5% cost of living raise once a year if they have not received a promotion or merit related salary increase
  • Bonuses will not be considered as a component of minimum salary increases
  • No consultants, contractors, or managers will be hired to advise, direct, or influence the Support department without interviewing with at least two Support employees.
  • If neither employee feels the individual is a competent contributor the proposed role will be open to the public and internal staff to apply
  • Staff and management will work towards transparent job roles and salary bands that are available throughout the company
  • Any changes to existing job roles and responsibilities must be shared in writing with any affected staff members and internally documented and available for all staff
  • Any termination of support staff must be as a result of a well-documented PIP process, or a transparent and documented result of a lay off or extenuating circumstances.
  • PIP must include a start and end date, concrete items to improve, a measure of what will be considered successful and who progress must be reported to
  • Consider offering a severance option which may be accepted in lieu of PIP
  • The entire Support department is moved away from Ops to Engineering

Many of the asks above were documented and encouraged behaviors when the existing npm Support team were hired. We ask that our quality of work and life be given the respect it is due so we may continue to provide outstanding value and Support to our community of users.

Activity Outside a Union

Employees who are not represented by a union also have rights under the NLRA. Specifically, the National Labor Relations Board protects the rights of employees to engage in “concerted activity”, which is when two or more employees take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment.

A single employee may also engage in protected concerted activity if he or she is acting on the authority of other employees, bringing group complaints to the employer’s attention, trying to induce group action, or seeking to prepare for group action.

A few examples of protected concerted activities are:

  • Two or more employees addressing their employer about improving their pay.
  • Two or more employees discussing work-related issues beyond pay, such as safety concerns, with each other.
  • An employee speaking to an employer on behalf of one or more co-workers about improving workplace conditions.

www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/rights/employee-rights

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