GM eBay Canada Robert Bigler Will Be Next TCGPlayer CEO

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


UPDATE 4-11-23

TCGPlayer customers are discussing the new CEO announcement on Reddit and have some interesting insights to share.

Typically things like this end up being “this won’t impact day-to-day operations”……until one day it does.

if a corporate executive tells you "nothing will change," that's a sign that changes are already happening

"TCGplayer’s founders built this wonderful company to serve hobbyists and provide an inclusive workplace culture."

Shot across the bow referencing the union vote

"I too am a champion of small businesses and local hobby shops."

Which is why he works for a Fortune 500 company.

eBay's trading card marketplace subsidiary TCGPlayer has a new CEO as General Manager eBay Canada, Robert Bigler, steps up to take the helm.

Bigler announced his new position on LinkedIn.

After three incredible years leading the eBay Canada team, I’m excited to announce I’m taking on a new role as CEO of TCGplayer.

Last year, eBay acquired TCGplayer to find even more ways to connect hobbyists and enthusiasts with the products they love most. As a champion of small businesses and local hobby shops, and someone who is deeply passionate about the collectibles space, I’m honored to lead such a talented, entrepreneurial team.

The move comes after TCGPlayer founder and previous CEO Chedy Hampson agreed to step down last month in the wake of a contentious unionization battle with authentication employees that racked up multiple unfair labor practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board.

TCGPlayer Founder & CEO Chedy Hampson Steps Down
TCGPlayer CEO Chedy Hampson is stepping down from the eBay-owned trading card marketplace effective March 24.

The union drive raised serious questions about what could happen at eBay's other labor-centric authentication operations as well as concerns about due diligence and disclosures in the TCGPlayer acquisition.

Will eBay Face More Union Pressure & Due Diligence Scrutiny After TCGPlayer Vote?
TCGPlayer union vote could ripple through other eBay ops, raises questions about acquisition due diligence.

TCGPlayer employees had previously attempted to unionize in 2020, raising concerns and demands about working conditions, pay, and management transparency similar to those cited in this latest effort to organize.

eBay should have been able to anticipate and prepare for the possibility of facing unionization efforts following its acquisition, given that the agreement allowed Hampson and other crucial management personnel to remain in an environment with a documented history of "strained" labor relations.

Interestingly, eBay chose not to reveal to investors the potential risks that unionization efforts could bring until their latest 10-K submission to the SEC on February 23, 2023.

However, even after this disclosure, the company downplayed the potential impact.

Our business is primarily nonunionized, but we have some works councils outside the U.S. There has been a general increase in workers organizing to form or join a union in the U.S.

While we have not seen a material increase in such efforts among our employees, the unionization or related activism of significant employee populations could result in higher costs and other operational changes necessary to respond to changing conditions and to establish new relationships with worker representatives.

That statement was made one month after TCGPlayer employees filed their union petition and multiple unfair labor practices complaints with the National Labor Relations Board.

While eBay may not consider 272 employees "significant" within the total global headcount, any unionization efforts in the US are arguably a "material increase" from 0.

Coincidentally, eBay's Chief Accounting Officer Brian Doerger also agreed to step down on the same day as Chedy Hampson.

eBay Chief Accounting Officer Exit Amplifies TCGPlayer Due Diligence Concerns
eBay Chief Accounting Officer steps down amidst growing concerns about TCGPlayer due diligence.

Despite a majority of authentication workers voting to form the first union in eBay history, TCGPlayer management has refused to accept the decision - first issuing a statement saying they were "disappointed" in the outcome and then filing multiple objections with the NLRB.

TCGPlayer Workers Win Vote, Become First eBay US Union
Authentication workers at eBay-owned TCGPlayer win union vote, becoming first official US union in eBay history!

Those objections were rejected on March 22 when the NLRB ruled that the "Employer’s objections are wholly without merit" and overruled them in their entirety, officially certifying the vote and establishing TCGUnion-CWA Local 1123.

However, TCGPlayer still has not accepted the decision and filed an appeal on April 5, basing their objections on the disputed status of Operations Leads.

As a result of the Region’s failure to determine the Operations Leads’ supervisory status, eligible voters went to the polls on March 10, 2023 believing their supervisors may be in a bargaining unit along with them. The Region’s failure to determine the Operations Leads’ status also condoned pro-union conduct by certain Operations Leads and destroyed the laboratory conditions for a free and fair exercise of TCGplayer’s employees’ Section 7 rights.

What’s more, after the March 10, 2023 election, none of the parties to this case—not the CWA, not TCGplayer, and not the bargaining unit employees—knows whether the conditionally certified (subject to this appeal) bargaining unit includes Section 2(11) supervisors.

The Board is required to determine appropriate bargaining units in each case. 29 U.S.C. § 159(b). The U.S. Supreme Court has held that employers have no duty to bargain in a unit including supervisors. Beasley v. Food Fair of N.C., 416 U.S. 653, 659-60 (1974). Including supervisors in a bargaining unit violates the structure of the NLRA; fails to allow employees the fullest freedom in selecting their representatives; fails to establish a stable bargaining relationship; deprives an employer of its right to rely on its supervisors’ duty of loyalty to it; violates an employer’s free speech rights under Section 8(c) of the NLRA, 28 U.S.C. § 158(c) and the First Amendment; and allows supervisors to engage in objectionable conduct supporting a union organizing drive. Region 3 erred in failing to determine the Operations Leads’ status, which denied TCGplayer of its rights and TCGplayer’s employees of their Section 7 rights.

All of this could have been avoided had Region 3 adhered to its statutory mandate and precedent of affording TCGplayer an opportunity to present evidence during a pre-election hearing on unit issues and post-election hearing on objections, yet Region 3 refused to do so, instead choosing expediency to conditionally certify an unlawful bargaining unit comprised of Section 2(3) employees and Section 2(11) supervisors.

For the reasons set forth below, Region 3 committed several reversible errors in issuing the DDE and the DOO, including misapplying NLRB Rule & Regulation (“R&R”) Section 102.64(a), abusing its discretion in deferring a determination of supervisory status to after the election, and applying an impermissibly high standard to TCGplayer’s Objections and Offer of Proof in denying a hearing on those Objections.

TCGplayer therefore respectfully requests that the Board grant this Request for Review (“RFR”), vacate the DDE and remand this case to another region for a re-election hearing and re-run election, provided the Union’s showing of interest remains valid in light of supervisory taint. Alternatively, TCGplayer requests that the Board vacate the DOO and remand the matter to another region for a post-election hearing on TCGplayer’s Objections and the supervisory status of its Operations Leads.

TCGPlayer is represented by Littler Mendelson P.C., a law firm that proudly bills themselves as "the largest global employment and labor law practice in the world exclusively devoted to representing management."

Here's how Littler Mendelson describes their services:

Today, unions are deploying a variety of tactics in the pursuit of members. They actively engage with social media outlets to reach a broad audience. They tap into technology through electronic authorization cards that expedite and expand the organizing process. And they initiate corporate campaigns involving tactics that seek to turn public opinion away from a company.

With significant depth in traditional labor practice, Littler understands the mindset of union organizers and stands ready to advise employers facing such tactics. Our deep experience in representing management serves as a strong counterpoint to the world’s most powerful labor organizations. We guide companies in developing and initiating strategies that lawfully avoid unions or effectively respond to unconventional corporate campaigns.

The significant pushback from TCGPlayer management would seem to stand in stark contrast to eBay's human rights policies on unions, which states:

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

But that policy had never faced real world tests before the TCGPlayer acquisition.

Some TCGPlayer workers are disheartened that eBay has stood on the sidelines during this process and done very little to ensure management lives up to those stated policies.

eBay Acquisition Motivates TCGPlayer Workers Ahead Of Union Vote
Authentication workers at eBay-owned TCGPlayer marketplace will vote on union petition March 10.

If eBay's human rights policy is to be anything more than  a hollow unfulfilled promise, Bigler must stop fighting and honor that commitment by bargaining in good faith with TCGUnion-CWA.


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!