eBay Workers Fight Back Against Union-busting Tactics

In recent months, eBay has found itself embroiled in a heated battle with its first union, the TCG Union-CWA. What started as a hopeful victory for workers has quickly turned into a struggle for recognition and fair treatment.

In this article, we will delve into the details of the ongoing conflict, examining the unfair labor complaints filed against eBay and TCGplayer, and shedding light on the tactics employed to undermine the union. Let’s explore the events leading up to this clash and the challenges faced by the TCG Union-CWA.

The seeds of the TCG Union-CWA were sown in 2020 when workers at TCGplayer, an online marketplace for collectible card games, were set to vote on unionization. Promises of improved benefits and better pathways to promotion were made by TCGplayer management in an attempt to dissuade the workers from unionizing. Despite these promises, the union vote was eventually withdrawn, and workers were left waiting for the changes they had been promised.

Fast forward to March of this year, when the majority of TCGplayer workers voted in favor of the TCG Union-CWA representing them. However, eBay and TCGplayer immediately filed several appeals challenging the election, refusing to recognize the union and effectively stalling the negotiation process. This refusal to acknowledge the certified union has left workers frustrated and powerless, as their voices are being disregarded by the very company they helped build.

Briana Thomas, a member of the TCG Union-CWA organizing committee, expressed her concerns about eBay and TCGplayer’s refusal to engage in negotiations: “They have refused to give us our rights to status quo. Our Weingarten rights. They refuse to recognize us as a union. They refuse to acknowledge the fact that [the union has] been certified even if we present them with certification.”

To further erode union support, eBay and TCGplayer have resorted to intimidation tactics and legal challenges. Littler Mendelson, a notorious anti-union law firm known for its work against organizers at Starbucks and Apple, has been retained by eBay and TCGplayer. This move has raised concerns among union members, who have faced captive audience meetings and the demonization of those who support the union.

Thomas recounted the hostile atmosphere created by eBay and TCGplayer: “We had to deal with them quite literally demonizing those of us that wanted the union. They told us to call the cops on our coworkers if they made us feel uncomfortable. They spread lies about how we were showing up at people’s houses and harassing them. They tried to perpetuate this idea that we were doing this maliciously.”

The unfair labor complaints filed against eBay and TCGplayer highlight the extent of the companies’ violations. These complaints include:

1-Refusal to Recognize and Bargain: eBay and TCGplayer have refused to recognize the union and engage in collective bargaining, denying workers their right to negotiate for fair contracts.

2-Lack of Information Disclosure: The companies have failed to provide relevant information requested by the union during the bargaining process, hindering the progress towards a resolution.

3-Violation of Weingarten Rights: Employees have been denied their Weingarten rights, which grant them the right to have a union representative present during investigatory meetings that may result in disciplinary action.

4-Unilateral Changes to Employment Terms: eBay and TCGplayer have implemented unilateral changes to various terms and conditions of employment without negotiating with the union, violating the established status quo rules.

The ongoing battle between eBay and the TCG Union-CWA has taken a toll on the workers. Briana Thomas emphasized the growing anger and fear among the employees: “People are getting angry. They’re angry because they’re afraid. We are afraid that they are going to continue drawing this out.” With the constant changes at work, the loss of sick time, and the absence of cost-of-living raises for three years, workers are struggling to maintain their livelihoods and a sense of security.

As labor movements in the gaming industry gain momentum, the struggle of the TCG Union-CWA serves as a reminder that winning a union election is just the first step. The ultimate goal of a union is to secure a collective bargaining agreement that ensures fair treatment for workers. However, eBay and TCGplayer’s refusal to recognize the union and engage in negotiations threatens the realization of this goal.

The Verge has reached out to eBay and TCGplayer for comment, but their response and the future of the TCG Union-CWA remain uncertain. The outcome of this battle will not only impact the workers at TCGplayer but also set a precedent for labor movements in the gaming industry as a whole.

The conflict between eBay and the TCG Union-CWA highlights the challenges faced by workers in their pursuit of fair treatment and recognition. Despite winning a union election, eBay and TCGplayer have engaged in tactics to undermine the union, further exacerbating the struggles of the workers. The unfair labor complaints filed against the companies shed light on their disregard for workers’ rights and their unwillingness to negotiate in good faith. The outcome of this battle will shape the future of labor movements in the gaming industry, and workers are holding on to hope for a fair resolution.

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