Bargaining Update #7 – 12/18/2023

Snapshot Summary

  • Takeaways: Most of this session’s discussions were around proposals that one side or the other had already put forward. While there was a good amount of discussion on a number of these topics, we continue to see a stagnant amount of real development towards a new contract.
  • We were able to reach one new tentative agreement, on the subject of Employee Classification. This article covers what defines Full Time employees and what defines Part Time employees, in terms of number of average hours worked.
  • We know that things have been busy with the holidays, but we want to thank everyone who took the time to join us for our Holiday Party this year! The friendships and connections that we have built here at TCGplayer are a huge part of the reason we came together to form our Union. We are looking forward to a great 2024 for everyone in our Union. A strong contract is on the horizon!
  • Union proposals: Recognition, Seniority, Locker and Lounge, Employee Classification, Overtime, Job Descriptions, Hours of Work, Joint Labor/Management Committee
  • TCGplayer proposals: Joint Labor/Management Committee (Counter), Lockers, Seniority, Management Rights, Performance of Bargaining Unit Work
  • Take action: Our next members’ meeting will be Sunday, January 21, 6:30–7:30pm, and we will be holding input sessions on Thursday, January 18 focusing on economic issues. Show up, make your voice heard, and join in building a strong union for you and your coworkers!

Full Report

On December 18th, we had our seventh bargaining session to continue negotiating our first contract. Our Committee for this session consisted of workers Bob Guy, Ethan Salerius, Briana Thomas, and CWA Staff Representative Mike Garry.

Once again, we are nearing the end of the topics available for discussion while we await the NLRB’s decision on Unit Clarification. Once we know for certain who is and is not in the Unit, we can begin engaging in discussions around economic issues like pay, benefits, time off, and other considerations that require money or resources from either side.

While there are a number of remaining open issues, we were able to reach only one tentative agreement during this session. While we are glad to have the matter of Employee Classification settled for a prospective contract, it has taken 7 sessions to reach a consensus on something as simple as what makes a Full Time or a Part Time employee. So many things we know to be simple, and hoped to see eye to eye with the company about easily have come only after great discussion and disagreement. Regrettably, we continue to see little improvement in this regard.

Despite this, we continued to make some progress on a number of issues, and should be close to tentative agreements on several of them for the next session. We look forward to building more pieces of the contract we know will help improve the quality of life of everyone in our Union.

To make that happen, we still need the active support of our members! If you haven’t signed our Unity Pledge, follow this link to let TCGplayer and eBay know that you stand with your Bargaining Committee, and that you demand a strong, fair contract NOW!

Our Proposals

  • Recognition: We have reached consensus on most of the language surrounding the recognition of CWA as the bargaining representative of our Unit. We put forward a proposal that addressed some of the ambiguity around addresses and locations included in the contract to ensure that the company will not attempt to relocate the shop to avoid our Union. We also requested an update on new hires and terminations be provided to the Union on a monthly basis.
  • Seniority: While we have a relatively solid concept of seniority that both sides agree on, we still want to see this used more broadly as a concept across the contract. We asked that the Union be given an updated list of seniority of Unit members quarterly, rather than annually, as the company had originally proposed. Additionally, we added language to the proposal that covers some obvious events that would cause a loss of seniority, such as termination for cause, voluntary quits, and job abandonment. While the company had included Layoff and Recall in their proposal on seniority, we decided that it was best to strip that language from this proposal, and address Layoff and Recall in its own separate proposal at a later date.
  • Locker and Lounge: We continued to work to clarify the common sense safety and security issues surrounding locker use. TCGplayer is not an enormous work campus, so we added language that requires management to find an employee who is on site and have them present before executing a locker search. We continue to insist that employees have a right to request a Union representative be present as well. Additionally, we maintain that the company is required to have a Union representative present in the event the employee is not on site for any prospective locker searches. Finally, we added language that requires the company to provide email notification in the event of a search, as well as an itemized list of any items confiscated.
  • Employee Classification: We were able to clarify language around full and part time employment, and reached a tentative agreement with management on this article.
  • Overtime: To headline this article, we want to underline that we understand and share the Unit’s opinion that mandatory overtime is an unwanted, unnecessary, unacceptable practice that is a poor fit for our business model and our Union members. We understand the company may need to authorize overtime to address business needs, and maintain that this should be made available on a volunteer basis. Overtime shall be paid for any hours worked over 40 in a given work week. Additionally, we asked that holiday pay and PTO be used to calculate overtime thresholds.
  • Job Descriptions: We maintain that the company shall provide our job descriptions on both physical bulletin boards, as well as in the company’s HRIS software (UKG). We added language that requires the company to consult with the Union in the event they want to add, eliminate, or modify any existing job descriptions within the Bargaining Unit.
  • Hours of Work and Schedules: This article seeks to define the work week, as well as the shifts and norms around scheduling for the duration of the contract. We asked that shifts be for either 8 or 10 hours, as is the current status quo for AC work. We also asked that schedules be consistent from week to week for each employee. Additionally, we asked that every employee be afforded 2 days off in a row, and that existing schedules be modified to make this accommodation. For those employees who have schedules without 2 days off in a row that they like, this right can be waived by the employee. Schedule changes may be requested after 90 days on the same work schedule. Time off requests and meal breaks mirror NY State law.
  • Joint Labor/Management Committee:  Both sides had proposals on this issue for this session. After some discussion with the company’s bargaining team, we agreed that smaller format meetings would be better to stay focused and productive, settling on 5 members from each side to discuss issues. Employees who are not scheduled to work the day of a committee meeting shall be allowed to participate, however this will be an off the clock activity for anyone not already on-site and working. A meeting may be canceled or rescheduled by mutual consent between our Union and the company .We are close to a tentative agreement on this, though disagreement persists between each side about how often to meet and how long to meet for. We maintain that we should be meeting at least monthly with the company to discuss important issues—a demand the company has been unwilling to compromise with us on.

Management’s Proposals

  • Lockers: The company came back with language that was not sufficiently specific in regards to what policies they intend to enforce with a locker search policy, but other than that we are very close to a tentative agreement on this article, pending a final draft both sides find agreeable.
  • Seniority (Counter): The company’s counter on Seniority left language in around Layoff and Recall, which we continue to maintain should be its own article for sake of clarity. The company also maintains they would like to see seniority lost after only 3 months of layoff, which is far too soon. We have requested this not to trigger until 24 months after a layoff, though longer periods are not uncommon in other contracts. Finally, the company added language that can disqualify returning employees from layoff or disability if they are no longer physically able to perform their jobs.
  • Management Rights: While addressing this issue once again, the company insists its focus is on maintaining flexibility. We had conversations around the deficiency of our current job titles in regards to the work we actually perform. Our current job titles let them move us freely and without explanation, and we were frank with management’s team about why we do not trust them to do this fairly or effectively. We also had conversations around the dangers of automation eliminating jobs in the AC and what can be done to prevent this, as well as continued discussion around management’s desire to mandate overtime shifts. We continue to be far apart on many issues in this proposal, though we get closer to the heart of what each side values each time we discuss it.
  • Performance of Bargaining Unit Work: The purpose of this article is mostly to outline who may or may not perform work done by members of our Bargaining Unit. After some discussion, we clarified the company does not want to use managers or trainers to shoulder any amount of workflow on a regular basis, and would only have them handling our work for training or unique circumstances.

Upcoming Dates

  • 1/9: Bargaining Session
  • 1/18: Input Sessions - Economic Issues (AM & PM)
  • 1/21: Members’ Meeting
  • 1/26: Bargaining Session
  • 2/6: Bargaining Session
  • 2/13: Bargaining Session
  • 2/18: Members’ Meeting
  • 3/5: Bargaining Session
  • 3/24: Members’ Meeting