eBay Has A New Head Of Labor Relations As Kristi Selby Joins From Nestle - What Does It Mean For TCGPlayer Union?

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


eBay has a new Head of Labor and Employee Relations as self-styled "employee relations guru" Kristi Selby joins the company after almost 12 years in labor related roles at Nestle.

Selby announced the job change on LinkedIn last week, saying she is excited for the "opportunity to leverage [her] skills and background in this new position to drive the amazing culture across the frontline!"

Given those hashtags, it will be interesting to see how Selby handles the heavy-drinking culture that is reportedly still pervasive at the company and so ingrained in eBay's cultural DNA that the on-campus pub has continued to host daily happy hours with free beer and wine despite the role it played in the 2019 cyberstalking scandal.

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But of course the primary reason she was hired is likely to help eBay handle ongoing bargaining battles with the first US union in company history, established by authentication workers at subsidiary TCGPlayer last year, and labor relations at other authentication centers in Nevada, New York, New Jersey, and international locations in Canada, UK, Australia, Germany and Japan.

eBay acquired TCGPlayer in October 2022 in a ~$295 Million deal that left founding CEO Chedy Hampson and other key management in place, despite a history of strained labor relations which led to a previous union drive in March 2020 that received national media attention and public support from Senator Bernie Sanders.

Source: NLRB Case Number 03-RC-258061

That first vote was ultimately not successful, but workers' concerns about wages, disability accommodations, and a desire to have more say in company policies continued to grow after the acquisition, leading TCGPlayer workers to file multiple complaints against eBay with the National Labor Relations Board and another official union petition on January 25, 2023.

eBay fought hard against TCGUnion-CWA, hiring infamous anti-union law firm Littler Mendelson to represent their interests and filing objections and appeals to try to overturn the successful union vote on March 10, 2023.

The ongoing union fight raised questions about due diligence and disclosure in the TCGPlayer acquisition and what the implications could be for eBay's other labor centric operations.

Amid scrutiny and investor concerns about the acquisition and union risks, Hampson and eBay Chief Accounting Officer Brian Doerger both stepped down from their positions on March 20th, 2023.

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GM eBay Canada Rob Bigler was promoted to take the helm at TCGPlayer in April 2023, but the change in leadership did not resolve ongoing labor tensions as more complaints were filed with the NLRB and eBay continued trying to block the certification of the successful union vote.

eBay was finally forced to acknowledged TCGUnion-CWA in August 2023 after a final NLRB decision rejected their attempts to overturn the vote, but has continued to drag their feet on bargaining a first contract with the union.

The union has had some recent wins, inking a settlement with eBay that included compensation for fired pro-union workers and other concessions in return for dropping open NLRB complaints and getting eBay to reinstate previously removed language from their human rights policy that promises to respect workers' rights to unionize and to bargain in good faith.

But as TCGUnion-CWA said in a recent tweet, they've yet to see meaningful action coming from eBay and Littler Mendelson to back up those promises.

Unfortunately, eBay's hiring of Kristi Selby may not bode well for the union efforts as her previous employer has a notoriously anti-union history.

Lawyer, activist, author, and Apple whistleblower Ashley Gjøvik wrote about Nestle's misconduct and union busting for CovertAction Magazine last year.

Nestlé’s Blatant Misconduct Shows Us the Darkness of Capitalism - CovertAction Magazine
From inventing the need for mass-scale baby formula leading to the deaths of infants, to redirecting much needed water from impoverished areas to bottle and sell back to the same communities, to exploiting child labor and slavery, Nestlé will stoop to any moral low to make a buck. [This article inaugurates Ms. Gjovik’s new column

In the U.S., the National Labor Relations Board’s public database shows 169 Unfair Labor Practice charges filed against Nestlé (though there may be more under the names of other subsidiaries).

In one recent case, the NLRB found against Nestlé USA in 2020, issuing an order against the corporation for unfair labor practices at a Wisconsin facility that produces DiGiorno pizza.

The NLRB ordered Nestlé USA to cease and desist from, among other things: coercively interrogating employees about their protected concerted activities, and suspending or discharging employees because they engage in protected concerted activities.” The Board ordered Nestlé to post a notice to employees admitting it violated federal labor laws and promising to follow federal labor laws going forward.

The year before, a report by AFL-CIO alleged that Nestlé had been involved in several workers’ rights abuses, that Nestlé USA management had continually interfered with workers’ organizing rights, and Nestlé was involved in anti-union campaigning.

Disturbingly, Gjøvik goes on to describe how Nestle's anti-union campaigning outside the US can be deadly, especially in South America where the company has alleged ties to paramilitary groups who have been involved in murders of union members and organizers.

Nestle is of course a giant corporation with many people involved in labor relations at various levels, but Selby's LinkedIn profile shows she was directly involved in contract bargaining at over 80 sites across 26 states during her tenure, so she is certainly very familiar with how the company handled labor relations in the US during that time.

In fact, National Labor Relations Board records show she was named in the ultimately unsuccessful organizing efforts by workers in Anderson, Indiana in 2021 where the Teamsters said management "ran an effective union avoidance campaign."

NLRB Case 25-RC-272018

Such "union avoidance" campaigns were apparently not uncommon under Selby's leadership.

A 2020 report by the Economic Policy Institute about how employers use threats and intimidation to stop workers from exercising their rights included Nestle in their list of companies that hired union avoidance consultants that "help employers exploit the weaknesses of federal labor law to deny workers the right to collective bargaining."

Fear at work: An inside account of how employers threaten, intimidate, and harass workers to stop them from exercising their right to collective bargaining
Most American workers want a union in their workplace but very few have it, because the right to organize—supposedly guaranteed by federal law—has been effectively cancelled out by a combination of legal and illegal employer intimidation tactics. This report focuses on the legal tactics—heavy-handed tactics that would be illegal in any election for public office but are regularly deployed by employers under the broken National Labor Relations Board’s union election system. Under this system, employees in workplace elections have no right to free speech or a free press, are threatened with losing their jobs if they vote to establish a union, and can be forced to hear one-sided propaganda with no right to ask questions or hear from opposing viewpoints. Employers—including many respectable, name-brand companies—collectively spend $340 million per year on “union avoidance” consultants who teach them how to exploit these weakness of federal labor law to effectively scare workers out of exercising their legal right to collective bargaining.

The Economic Policy Institute goes on to explain that a winning union vote is only the first step in an often drawn out process and that if union avoidance tactics fail, these same companies will often simply try to wear down pro-union workers in protracted bargaining, citing an over decade long contract negotiation started in 2009 by workers at Dish TV.

Ironically, those Dish TV workers were represented by the Communications Workers of America, just like TCGUnion. Dish TV (CWA Local 6171) finally ratified their first contract in 2022.

Delaying the bargaining process has been eBay's modus operandi so far and hiring Selby to head up Labor Relations doesn't provide any indication they plan to deviate from that path any time soon, regardless of what their human rights policy may say.


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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of online marketplace sales experience, providing commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify & more at Value Added Resource!