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Group of Card Sellers Accuses eBay of Retaliation Over Their Support of TCGplayer Union

A group of eBay sellers is accusing the company of union busting, saying it took action against their eBay accounts after they expressed support for the TCGplayer union (TCGunion).

The thirteen individuals and companies have
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they sent last week to eBay co-CEOs Robert Bigler and Jamie Iannone, accusing the company of abuse of monopoly power over sellers, abuse of monopsony power over workers, and anticompetitive conduct. The first half of the letter outlines a number of concerns about a growing monopoly the sellers believe eBay holds over the online card buying and selling industry, including multiple accusations that it has actively been trying to acquire or shut down competitors and stop sellers from using other platforms. The group then explains that TCGplayer, which is owned by eBay, has been shutting down certain seller accounts over the last year without explanation, but seemingly over sellers' support of TCGunion.

This has led to a chilling effect on sellers’ ability to exercise free speech.

"TCGplayer has exercised its monopoly power through arbitrary suspensions, bans, and deactivations of seller accounts, often without any explanation, including those of several members of our group," the letter reads. "This has led to a chilling effect on sellers’ ability to exercise free speech to discuss potential alternatives to TCGplayer, such as Card Trader, or their support of TCGplayer workers and the TCGunion. The fear of sudden and severe retaliation has even dissuaded some sellers from expressing any discontent with the state of the platform in general. In one case, a seller in our group had their account instantly deleted on a Friday night, without any warning or apology, due to a tweet that was taken out of context and misunderstood. This caused the seller significant burden to get his account restored and lost sales. TCGplayer can act in this way as a direct result of the monopoly it has and actively maintains in the online trading card game marketplace industry."

The letter then goes on to refer to
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levvied against eBay and TCGplayer which included increasing surveillance of organizing workers, holding anti-union meetings, and the termination of a union organizer close to the union's election in March of last year.

The sellers conclude by requesting contact from eBay and TCGplayer within two weeks to arrange a meeting to discuss remedies, and asks that the company reinstate seller accounts, guarantee freedom from retaliation, bargain in good faith with TCGunion, and treat its sellers fairly. The letter was sent on January 25, 2024, with a deadline of February 7, 2024 for eBay to respond before the sellers take additional action. In addition, another
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on February 1 by a group of Onondoga County elected officials, similarly urging the company to bargain with the union.

Speaking to IGN, seller Thomas Glavan of Tech Dragon Gaming said he supported the TCGunion in part due to concerns about consolidation in the online TCG market. "The merger between several online marketplaces for buying cards is concerning, both in terms of general market control by one company and the additional burden that this may place on the staff," he said. "Card Kingdom, one of the other three largest online TCG dealers in Magic: The Gathering, recently unionized. [It] likely sees less overall traffic for people looking to buy than TCGplayer, so it seems logical that the employees at TCGplayer/CFB/eBay should have those same benefits if not greater."

At the time of this piece, eBay and TCGplayer have not yet responded, nor did they respond to IGN's request for comment.

Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to [email protected].

Blogroll image credit: John Keeble/Getty Images

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