As the first subsidiary of eBay to attempt to unionize, TCGplayer—a site where collectors can buy and sell any number of collectible cards used in games like Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic: The Gathering, and Pokémon—knew that it was going to face opposition from management. Now, only a week after its successful supermajority vote to unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the union has filed several unfair labor practice charges against eBay itself. The official vote via the National Labor Relations Board will occur this Friday, March 10.
The CWA alleges that eBay held illegal captive audience meetings, issued out retaliatory discipline and threats, and conducted surveillance on union activities within TCGplayer. In addition to filing with the National Labor Relations Board, the union also delivered a letter to eBay’s Board of Directors, demanding the company commit to a labor neutrality agreement. The current TCGplayer mission statement advocates for fair wages, sick and vacation policies, better job descriptions, and a seat at the table to discuss large changes with management.
When asked for a comment, eBay shared this statement: “eBay respects every employee’s right to choose or decline union representation. We share a commitment with TCGplayer to protect and empower our employees’ rights through a fair and free election - where each individual can make an informed decision.”
This is the second union drive workers at TCGplayer have pursued. The first, in 2020, was withdrawn due to the pandemic. During this time, management at TCGplayer hired Littler Mendelson, a labor and employment firm which allegedly trained managers to spread anti-union sentiment among the work staff. Littler Mendelson is well known as hardball law firm that has been involved in anti-union tactics before, notably against the effort to unionize Starbucks, as well as Amazon and Nissan.
“Helping to form this union is the most important thing I have ever done. Working with my fellow organizers to find our voice in the workplace has helped me to grow my own voice and confidence as a leader,” states Jenny Bonham, Shipping specialist at TCGPlayer. “Watching TCGPlayer management and their lawyers constantly undermine our efforts to claim our rights as a workforce, while painting us as outside agents of division and aggression, has been frankly disgusting. I’m looking forward to beating this union busting campaign and showing everyone that we are stronger than their fear tactics.”
The current successful drive includes a unit of 282 workers in non-supervisory roles at TCGplayer’s New York authentication center, “including Generalists and Specialists across the Sorting, Pulling, Receiving, Shipping, Operations, Research and Development, Inventory, Comics, Quality, and Training departments,” according to the CWA.
“The only way to ensure that all workers’ voices are heard is collective action,” states the union in a recent press release announcing the successful action. “TCG Union/CWA follows in the footsteps of United Paizo Workers, Bellevue Mox Organized Workers and Noble Knight Games United in organizing for dignity and respect on the job.”
An earlier version of this article stated that the union had already been formed via supermajority vote; this is incorrect. A supermajority of workers voted to form a union, but they have yet to do a certified NLRB vote, which will take place this Friday, March 10. io9 sincerely regrets the error.
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