eBay Human Rights Policy Recommits To Labor Bargaining In Wake Of TCGPlayer Union Settlement

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


Unionized authentication workers at eBay-owned TCGPlayer have racked up another win for TCGUnion-CWA, as eBay reinstates previously removed commitment to bargain in good faith in company's Human Rights Policy.

For several years before eBay acquired the collectible trading card marketplace in 2022, their Human Rights policy page had a section that said:

"eBay also respects workers’ rights to unionize, and commits to bargain in good faith with any relevant associations or labor unions."

It was easy for eBay to proclaim a supposed commitment to respect workers' rights to unionize and to bargain in good faith when they had never faced any significant real world tests, but when workers at TCGPlayer tried to take them up on that commitment, eBay's actions sent a very different message.

eBay should not have been surprised when they faced unionization efforts after the acquisition, considering the deal initially 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, especially once eBay entered the picture, leading TCGPlayer authenticators to file multiple complaints 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, TCGPlayer founder Chedy Hampson and eBay Chief Accounting Officer Brian Doerger both stepped down from their positions on March 20th, 2023.

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eBay promoted GM Canada Rob Bigler 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 curiously, they removed that previous language committing to bargain in good faith around the same time.

As eBay dragged their feet for months to stall coming to the bargaining table, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander and New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli chastised eBay for the Human Rights Policy reversal in a letter to the Board of Directors in November 2023.

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NYC & NYS Comptrollers call on eBay to reinstate pro-union language in Human Rights Policy & bargain in good faith with TCGPlayer workers.

Little progress had been made on either the bargaining front or the Human Rights Policy until eBay and TCGUnion-CWA announced a surprising settlement last week which included compensation for fired pro-union workers and other concessions in return for dropping all open NLRB complaints.

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The monetary terms of the deal are confidential, but a representative for TCGUnion-CWA provided a copy of the notice to employees that eBay/TCGPlayer is required to post in their facility as a condition of the settlement.

And, while eBay's Human Rights Policy was not explicitly named in that list, it is noteworthy that once again, the language of the policy has been changed to currently read:

We respect the rights of our employees to choose to support, or not support, representation by a labor union, works council or other employee organization established and certified under applicable laws.

We are committed to following all rules and regulations and to bargaining in good faith with any such representative body.

Interestingly, this surprising settlement comes at a time of increasing regulatory and government interest in eBay's legal, compliance and due diligence practices in Mergers and Acquisitions.

For example, eBay recently entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice after being found criminally liable in connection to the 2019 cyberstalking of journalists Ina and David Steiner of EcommerceBytes.

The deal hit the company with the maximum fine of $3 Million dollars and will require enhanced compliance monitoring for 3 years, including a specific focus on Mergers and Acquisitions due diligence, disclosure and risk management.

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Chief Legal Officer Marie Oh Huber has recently announced she will be stepping down to pursue "a new chapter in her career, while exploring personal interests and passions."

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While eBay has made no explicit statements about the reasons for her departure, the cyberstalking criminal settlement and ongoing civil case as well as a historic $59 Million settlement with the DEA, litigation brought by the EPA, labor relations issues and M&A missteps are all likely catalysts for the decision.

Not only did Oh Huber participate in some troubling email exchanges that were revealed in the cyberstalking case, she also directly supervised ex-Chief Compliance Officer/current VP Deputy General Counsel M&A and Securities, Molly Finn - who in her current role was in charge of overseeing and executing the TCGPlayer acquisition.

The enhanced compliance agreement has shed new light on Finn's history at the company and the possible reasons why a deal to avoid further prosecution for federal felonies committed by eBay security personnel would have anything to do with Mergers and Acquisitions.

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Did increasing scrutiny of due diligence failures in the TCGPlayer purchase give TCGUnion-CWA the leverage they needed to bring eBay to the table to settle Unfair Labor Practice claims and publicly recommit to the bargaining process?


Liz Morton Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

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!

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