TikTok staff raise more than US$11,600 in a day for injunction against Trump’s ‘uncool’ executive order

Coco Feng
·4-min read

A crowdfunding campaign to help US employees of embattled short video app TikTok “fight to keep our paychecks”, after US President Donald Trump issued an executive order targeting the Chinese-owned app, has raised more than a third of its US$30,000 target in a day.

The order prohibits “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” with TikTok’s Beijing-based owner ByteDance starting next month. The document calls on the Secretary of Commerce to define the specific banned transactions, although this has yet to happen.

California-based TikTok technical program manager Patrick Ryan, who organised the GoFundMe fundraiser, wrote on the campaign page that making “any transaction by any person” with ByteDance illegal would cause 1,500 ByteDance and TikTok employees in the US to lose their paychecks from September 20.

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The employees plan to file an injunction “so that a court can order the government to change the order so that TikTok can still pay employees”, according to the campaign page. “We are asking only for the right to continue to receive paychecks, not for anything else: no damages or any other payout.”

The campaign, initiated on Thursday, had already raised more than US$11,600 from some 40 donors as of noon on Friday.

TikTok, WeChat targeted for US ban with Trump’s latest executive orders

Separately, the company has also indicated that it may take its objections over the executive order to court. “We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the US courts,” TikTok said in a statement on its website last week.

A TikTok spokesman told the Post that the company has “no involvement with and are not coordinating on the initiative of employees that has been undertaken in their personal capacity outside of work”. He added: “We respect the rights of employees to engage in concerted activity to seek due process of law.”

Sharing the campaign on LinkedIn, Ryan called Trump’s executive order “unconstitutional” and “uncool”, saying it would make it illegal for TikTok to pay employees.

Mike Godwin, a Washington DC-based lawyer providing legal advice for the planned injunction, also tweeted on Thursday that the US government’s ban was “over-broad” that “has put employees' Constitutional rights, including the right to be paid, in jeopardy”.

ByteDance said in July that it was planning to add about 10,000 jobs in the US over the next three years. But facing a shutdown or sale, it is now re-evaluating hundreds of job openings in Austin, according to NBC-affiliated news channel Kxan, which estimated that Trump's order jeopardises 2,000 jobs TikTok planned to bring to Texas.

The company is also facing trouble in another of its major markets, India. TikTok is among almost 100 Chinese apps that have been banned in the country after a deadly border clash between Chinese and Indian troops. ByteDance has frozen hiring in the country, according to a report by English-language Indian newspaper The Economic Times.

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