Bargaining Update #6 – 12/7/2023

Snapshot Summary

  • Takeaways: Today’s bargaining session saw both teams with a lot of articles from the other side to discuss and make counter-proposals on. In contrast to previous bargaining sessions, both our team and eBay’s bargaining team were able to make significant progress on outstanding issues, with many articles we had not even discussed being very close to tentative agreements.
  • While we were unable to reach any new tentative agreements, it is important to note that we did see a significant increase in engagement from eBay’s bargaining team. The only thing that changed between now and a week ago is our powerful collective actions like our informational picket. eBay knows we are serious, and we won’t be ignored in our quest for our first contract. 
  • Whether you changed your Slack profile picture in solidarity, signed our Unity Pledge, or came out to march with us during our informational picket, thank you so much! YOU are the Union, and the reason we have come this far!
  • Union proposals: Lockers, Employee Classification, Hours of Work, Seniority, Bulletin Boards
  • TCGplayer proposals: Reduced Work Schedule, Joint Labor/Management Committee, Good Standing, Health and Safety, Attendance
  • Take action: Our Union is having a holiday party on 12/17! We have booked the Hops Spot from 6:30pm to 10:30pm!

Full Report

On December 7th, we had our sixth bargaining session to continue negotiating our first contract. Our Committee for this session consisted of workers Bob Guy, Ethan Salerius, CWA Local 1123 President Chris Ryan, and CWA District 1 Area Director Deb Hayes.

As we are reaching the end of the available non-economic proposals available to us while we wait for a final ruling from the NLRB about unit clarification, there were fewer topics discussed at this session than in previous sessions. Despite this, what was lacking in quantity was made up for in the depth of discussion and actual understanding reached between both sides on several subjects we had made no progress on up to this point. Many of our proposals have now been discussed by both sides, and we hope to reach tentative agreements on several of them during our next session.

A big part of what made this progress possible was eBay’s bargaining team choosing to properly engage in bargaining with us for the first time since this bargaining process began. However, it is critically important to remember that they didn’t simply wake up one morning and decide to do the right thing by our Union—their change in attitude at the bargaining table has everything to do with the powerful collective actions that each and everyone one of you have contributed to over the last few weeks. A union is nothing without the support of each of its members, and our recent successes are a testament to the rock solid strength of our unity.

The reality is that while we had one strong day of negotiations, we are still a long way away from our goal of reaching our first contract. Forward progress is good news, but we also reached no new tentative agreements. We will need to continue to put pressure on TCGplayer and eBay to keep them fully engaged in the bargaining process. We have also asked eBay’s bargaining team for even more dates moving forward—we are hoping to meet with them once a week from now until we reach a contract for the Union to vote on.

It is for these reasons that it is more important than ever before for our Union members to be educated on the process, sharing their views on issues related to bargaining, and getting engaged and involved with their friends and co-workers. If you’ve been getting fired up about the progress we’re making or the collective actions you’ve taken part in, it's never too late to get more involved! If you want to be involved in mobilizing, or are interested in being a Union activist, reach out to anyone on the Mobilizing Committee or Bargaining Committee today!

eBay may be walking the walk for now, but we do not believe that the company’s strategy for dealing with our Union has changed. If we allow them the space to do so, we fully expect they will delay this negotiation process until they are legally permitted to run a union decertification campaign. If our Union is decertified, all of the work we’ve put in for over a year now will have been for NOTHING! We are confident in the strength and solidarity of our membership, however, and know that no amount of delays or postponement will keep us from that first contract. To decertify us, they have to ask the workers to do it for them, and THE WORKERS ARE THE UNION!

Our Proposals

Our Union countered 5 outstanding proposals this session.

  • Lockers: The company’s original proposal on locker use was broadly similar to the existing policy in effect currently. The language we worked to clarify and optimize in this article was around employee and Union representative involvement in any potential search by the company of employee lockers. Whenever possible, we have asked that an employee be present for any search of their locker. Additionally, we asked that an employee be permitted to request the presence of a Union representative alongside them for this purpose. Finally, we asked that it be mandatory for a Union representative to be present for any such search where the employee cannot be on-site for the search.
  • Employee Classification: We engaged in further discussion around eBay’s most recent counter to this proposal on 11/28. We were able to agree that there were a couple of different parts of this proposal that were better addressed in their own, specific proposals. We identified Overtime pay as something that will likely require its own article, and management identified Leaves of Absence as something that will need to be covered in its own article as, depending on the type, they are subject to different laws at the state and federal level. Beyond that, we were able to reach a general consensus that full time work is to be regularly scheduled between 30 and 40 hours per week, and that part time work is to be regularly scheduled 29 hours or fewer in a week.
  • Hours of Work: Our largest issue when we read this proposal on 11/28 was their provision that would allow for the assignment of mandatory overtime to AC employees, something we know our Union is strongly opposed to. We maintain this stance, but as with the Employee Classification article above, we will have to tackle Overtime as its own article as part of our economic proposal package. We clarified that we would like any employee hired for a 40 hour schedule to be entitled to 40 hours worth of scheduled shifts a week. The current policy around meal break times is unlikely to change from its current form, as it is made to comply with New York law.
  • Seniority: Clarified that contractors will have their original hire date adjusted to their first day of work as a contractor. We maintained that Layoff/Recall should be its own article, with this article defining seniority as a concept to be referred to throughout the contract, where applicable. eBay’s team seemed agreeable to this as long as we were explicit in each instance where it would be used. They also requested we draft language around when an employee would not retain seniority (such as in the event of termination for cause, voluntary quit, job abandonment, or failure to respond to recall from layoff). Additionally, we requested the Union be provided an updated seniority list every 3 months, instead of the every 6 months the company originally proposed.
  • Bulletin Boards: In response to the company’s rejection of our proposal for three bulletin boards, one on each floor, we proposed an alternative compromise of one bulletin board at each time clock—one in the castle lobby, and one on the 3rd floor by the elevators. While they feel this may require a relocation of the 1st floor time clock to make room for it, they told us they would look into the possibility and have something for us on this proposal next time.

Management’s Proposals

Management had proposals on Good Standing and Health and Safety, as well as counters on 3 proposals

  • Reduced Work Schedule (RWS): eBay’s counter on this proposal brings the policy mostly in line with what we currently do, with a few changes. The number of hours available to those on a RWS was adjusted to 25-35 hours per week, and the timeframe for requests for extensions was changed to 14 days before the end of the 90 day RWS period. Under this proposal, employees are responsible for returning to work as normal at the end of their RWS period. Additionally, management requested further employee/manager communication to ensure an employee does not average under 30 hours overall, to avoid reaching a part-time classification. 
  • Joint Labor/Management Committee: Management was broadly receptive to the idea of having a committee between Union members and management to address workplace issues, but wanted to add more structure to what was originally proposed. They want to meet less frequently, once every three months, for about an hour each meeting. They would like the format to consist of five members of AC leadership, and five workers from the AC’s Union membership. They asked that each team provide their counterpart with their agenda for the meeting a week in advance, to give each side time to prepare useful talking points. Additionally, AC employees must be in Good Standing to participate in committee meetings. (Good Standing will be further defined in the next proposal).
  • Good Standing: The company’s proposal on Good Standing mirrors the current eBay policy for Good Standing. If an employee receives the current equivalent of a Final Written warning, or is placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), that employee will no longer be in good standing for 90 days. If the employee has no further corrective action during that 90 days, or when taken off of the PIP at the end of 90 days, that employee will be returned to Good Standing. If you are not in Good standing, you lose access to the following.
    • Ability to apply to new roles
    • Ability to sign up for overtime shifts
    • Magic Hour
    • Tuition Reimbursement
    • Request a Reduced Work Schedule
    • Bonus eligibility
  • Health and Safety: The company’s proposal here covers the company and the Union’s commitment to an injury and illness free workplace, and identifies the Safety Squad and the Facilities department as the resources by which the company will achieve these goals. This proposal makes mandatory the reporting of on-site injuries and safety hazards. Additionally, the company specifies that all required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided by the employer, at no cost to the employee. Our counter will likely focus on ensuring continued membership in and access to TCGplayer’s Safety Squad, and open communication with the Union about workplace safety issues.

Upcoming Dates

  • 12/17: Holiday Party
  • 12/18: Bargaining Session
  • 1/11: Input Sessions - Economic Issues (AM & PM)
  • 1/21: Members’ Meeting