F.A.Q.

Basics

What is a union?

A union is an organized group of workers who come together to make decisions about the conditions of their work. Once we unionize, we will bargain with management on wages, work hours, benefits, workplace health and safety, and other work-related issues. The product of that negotiation is a legally binding contract that protects employees and their rights. We are the union, and if we are unhappy with our contract or the way the union is being run we have the power to change it!


Why do we need a union?

Over the past few years, several challenges have been made apparent at TCGplayer. These include unfair disciplinary proceedings, general disempowerment and anxiety among hourly employees, a lack of accountability for leadership, and the inadequate responses of People’s Success in addressing employee needs. A union will help us create true Community for All where all voices can be heard; traditionally oppressed populations can feel comfortable, supported, and protected; and where we are fairly compensated and valued for our work.


How will the union help address major issues?

Most contracts have a non-discrimination clause and mechanisms to hold management accountable. We can also bargain over equitable salaries, promotions policies, professional development opportunities, and layoff procedures, as well as grievance procedures that can result in arbitration if management is found to be in violation of the contract.


Can’t we get more by just sitting down and talking individually with management?

Bargaining collectively is the only way to effectively negotiate on issues such as metrics, a living wage for all, fair working conditions, and transparency. TCGplayer management has been holding round tables and AMAs which give the impression of them listening to us, but very little concrete change has come out of these meetings.


How will unionizing affect my relationship with my supervisor?

All employees, including supervisors, benefit from the equitable policies that unions promote. Some supervisors may believe unionizing is antagonistic. However, once a union is established, it is often less tense – and less personal – to approach a supervisor since there are formal procedures in place, as opposed to raising an issue individually. A union will protect you in these interactions.


What will our sellers think if we form a union?

When we last attempted to unionize we reached out to sellers on our platform and most supported the union effort. A union will help us create a more efficient, productive workplace that will serve both our needs as employees and the needs of the sellers. There are also employees who are sellers! By having a collective voice that we can use to Go Beyond, we can improve processes and make selling on our platform easier and more transparent without having our ideas ignored or stolen. Everyone benefits from improved workplace conditions!


Will eBay affect the unionizing process?

The transaction has closed, so eBay will also be at the table as the parent company of TCGplayer. Nothing in the merger contract affects our legal right to unionize, and we hope that eBay will respect this right and take a hands-off neutral stance.


Will I face negative consequences for supporting a union?

You have a right to unionize; it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee organizing a union. We are protected even before the contract is solidified, and to prevent any staff person from being singled out, unionizing is always done collectively. Our power is in our public numbers! If anything, there are positive outcomes for supporting a union such as the ability to negotiate your working conditions and the solidarity you get from colleagues. During the previous union attempt management did blindly punish people for supporting the union, but one of the main strengths of collective, public action is that it makes it more difficult for management to retaliate.


Who will be covered by a union?

Union-eligible employees include full-time and part-time employees (i.e. no contract workers or temporary staff) who do not supervise staff. At TCGplayer, in-person Authentication Center employees will be part of the bargaining unit. All union-eligible staff are fully covered by the collective bargaining agreement that is negotiated between the employer and the union, and the union is obligated to represent all members. Any employee that is part of the bargaining unit can opt into membership and pay dues. Members can participate in union elections or meetings, vote on our contract, and participate in other internal union activities.


When would we start paying dues, and how much are they?

No one pays a penny in dues until we bargain a first union contract, which is only ratified after a majority vote. When we ratify a union contract that we are satisfied with, dues will kick in. Dues are only 1.8% of your base hourly pay, or $1.80 per $100 you earn. This works out to less than an hour of work per week! The union is a non-profit; all the money goes back into the membership. Unions are fully funded by the members and are therefore fully accountable to their members. They do not receive grants, government, or corporate money. 

 

Once we start paying dues CWA will work with payroll to ensure dues are automatically taken out of your paycheck pre-tax. Dues can also be claimed on taxes; they are considered a job related write-off.


What can we expect from management?

We certainly hope that TCGplayer lives up to our core values and does not interfere with our right to form a union. However, during the previous campaign management used traditional anti-union tactics such as bribes, captive audience meetings in the form of Town Halls and All Hands, and hiring well known anti-union lawyers. Federal labor law states we have the right to form a union in an atmosphere free of any intimidation or retaliation! Management also asked for one year to fix the problems the organizing committee brought up, and we have seen no movement on those issues. TCGplayer’s fundamental problem is that AC employees have no collective voice within the organization.


More Info

What is CWA and why did we decide to work with this union?

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) represents 700,000 workers in private and public sector employment. CWA members work in telecommunications and information technology, news media, broadcast and cable television, health care, public service and education, manufacturing, the gaming industry, and other fields. Companies with CWA affiliated unions include Verizon, Activision-Blizzard, and the National Audubon Society. We decided to go with CWA because their worker-driven organizing model allows autonomy in how we organize while also offering key guidance and coordination.


What is a local? And which CWA local would we be a part of?

CWA International is made up of lots of smaller local union chapters around the United States and Canada. Every CWA member belongs to a local union that they will primarily interact with for most union-related things. Each local union has its own bylaws and elected local union leadership, as well as a unique history that informs what it looks like today. 

 

Our CWA locals will be where we can get more involved in local activities, reach out for representation once our contract is in place, and participate in our union. CWA Local 1123, based in Syracuse, will be our home local.


What is the contract bargaining process and timeline?

First, every union member will have the opportunity to run and vote in an election to be part of the bargaining committee. People selected for the bargaining committee will receive training, and CWA will also assign a staff representative, lawyer, and local officers to support them at the bargaining table. The bargaining committee will be responsible for soliciting input from the union membership over a period of time in order to determine issues and priorities for bargaining.

 

Once the bargaining committee has gathered information, they will begin the process of bargaining for a contract with TCGplayer’s administration. The process of bargaining our first contract could take some time and may require continued organizing and mobilizing to ensure that management continues to move forward.

 

Once bargaining concludes and we think we have reached the best deal, we will have a “tentative agreement.” Our representatives will go over the contract with union members, and we’ll all vote yes or no on the contract. If we vote yes, that’s our collective bargaining agreement (CBA). At this point, we will start paying dues. If we vote no, our bargaining committee goes back to the negotiating table to continue working on the agreement.

 

Our first contract sets an important precedent that we will build on over time. It is likely that we will not win every single one of our demands in this contract, hence the need to prioritize demands through the bargaining survey. Our ability to secure a strong first contract will be dependent on our ability to mobilize collectively around our demands. After all, our union’s power is in our membership. As we repeat this process through contract renewals over the years, we expect to continue expanding the ground that we gain.


What is the bargaining survey and why is it important?

The bargaining survey asks for your feedback about your priorities going into bargaining. It’s the first step towards making your voice heard in the union. By filling out the bargaining survey, you can tell the bargaining committee what you want to see in a contract. Your feedback is vital to the bargaining process because the bargaining committee will develop contract proposals based on the results of the bargaining survey. Only members of the union can fill out the bargaining survey.


What is a grievance procedure and why is it important?

A grievance procedure provides due process to union members or the union collectively, in the case of a problem arising regarding the contract or if the administration is not adhering to its terms. Grievances are often resolved in the first or second round, but if we can not resolve the issue with the administration, we have the right to bring the issue to a neutral, independent third-party for arbitration. Such arbitration would be legally binding.


What are Weingarten Rights?

Weingarten Rights grant union members a right to union representation during an investigatory interview meeting with management where they may face discipline or firing. This includes meetings where you’re asked to defend your conduct or work or that otherwise investigate your performance. In these meetings, workers can bring a union representative to join them in the meeting as an observer and to help them negotiate and navigate the conflict. Just like you can demand a lawyer during a meeting with police, you can demand a union rep during a meeting with your boss.

 

Do not expect management to invoke your Weingarten Rights; you must invoke them yourself by requesting a union representative be present. You can do this before or during the meeting (CWA provides cards with the Weingarten Rights on them.) Once invoked, you have the right not to participate in the meeting or answer any questions until your union representative is present. Management cannot discipline you for invoking your Weingarten Rights.