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TCGPlayer workers claim illegal “sabotage” of union talks

Workers file charges against TCGPlayer and eBay, alleging illegal delays to bargaining discussions with the trading card game market’s new union.

TCGPlayer unfair labor charges - Wizards of the Coast art of fantasy lawyers pushing a contract across a table

Workers at TCGPlayer, the online Magic: The Gathering marketplace, filed two Unfair Labor Practice charges against the company and its parent organization eBay. According to a press conference held by TCGUnion-CWA on July 31, these charges come after “eBay’s continued efforts to sabotage organized workers and ignore their basic right to organize”. TCGPlayer employees won a union vote to organize in March, but CWA alleges eBay and its subsidiary “engaged in a series of legal and illegal delay tactics to avoid meeting workers at the bargaining table”.

TCGPlayer staff first attempted to unionize in 2020, but the effort was abandoned due to the pandemic. After eBay acquired TCGPlayer in mid-2022, unionization plans were renewed. The winning election was won on March 10, 2023 – with 136 out of 272 non-supervisory workers in TCGPlayer’s authentication center voting to unionize.

CWA claims it has previously filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against eBay and TCGPlayer, “demonstrating a clear trend of illegal behavior”. A press release from Monday accuses TCGPlayer of providing substandard performance metrics, wages and benefits, and working conditions.

“Today’s action, and the multiple Unfair Labor Practice Charges we have filed, are crucial because five months ago, TCGunion-CWA won our union election with a majority vote”, says eBay worker and CWA member Briana Thomas. “In response, eBay has refused to bargain with us or listen to us.”

“My colleagues and I haven’t had a cost-of-living raise in three years”, Thomas adds. “We are losing sick time and face constant changes at work that impact our ability to be successful. We are tired of being blamed for management’s poor decision-making. We want eBay to stop skirting the law and sit down with us at the bargaining table.”

New York Senator John Mannion also attended Monday’s press conference. He describes “attempts by management to interfere in protected labor organizing activities” as “extremely disconcerting and potentially in violation of state and federal law”.

“We are critical to eBay’s success, but the company is not invested in ensuring we can work free from injury or earn enough to pay for groceries”, says eBay employee and CWA member Kethry Warren. “It’s time for management to back up their claims of respect for workers by coming to the bargaining table with real commitments, not just empty promises.”

TCGPlayer workers presented two petitions at the press conference: one signed by employees and another by around 6,500 community supporters of the unionization effort. Both apparently call for eBay and TCGPlayer to “end delay tactics and bargain in good faith”. CWA also recently met with President Biden to discuss the apparent refusal of corporations to bargain strong union contracts.

TCGPlayer logo

A representative from eBay responded to Dicebreaker after the news first broke. “We are not aware of any Unfair Labor Practice charge being filed”, says eBay. “TCGplayer’s priority is, and always has been, to build a workplace culture that gives team members a voice and opportunity to actively shape their future – and the future of the business.

“We are firmly aware of and committed to meeting any and all obligations we may have under the National Labor Relations Act.” “We will continue to follow the procedures of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)”, it adds.

“At the onset of this process, TCGPlayer asked Region 3 of the NLRB to resolve the issue of whether our Operations Leads were supervisors and thus ineligible for representation by the CWA”, it continues. “The CWA pushed back on our request and Region 3 of the NLRB agreed to wait until after the vote to address the issue. Due to the CWA’s position and Region 3’s action, we now find ourselves with this core issue unresolved.”

“We are equally frustrated by the delay in the process”, the statement concludes. “However, we intend to abide by the legal process put forth by the NLRB.”

TCGPlayer isn’t the only tabletop company talking about unions of late. Other TCG marketplaces appear to be further ahead in the process – after announcing union plans in April 2022, unionized Card Kingdom employees voted to accept a contract proposed by their employer in July 2023. Board game store Noble Knight Games also agreed to recognize a workers’ union at the start of 2023.