On Monday, March 16, warehouse workers at TCGplayer announced their intention to form a union with SEIU Local 200United, filing union cards representing over 70% of the workforce with the National Labor Relations Board. Despite this overwhelming support, the employer has flatly refused to voluntarily recognize the union.
This effort represents the most recent development in organizing US gaming workers, and possibly the first ever attempt undertaken by workers at a tabletop gaming facility to form a labor union.
TCGplayer, one of the largest distributors of Magic: The Gathering cards nationwide, employs nearly 100 warehouse workers who intake, process and ship up to 200,000 Magic cards per day. As one of the few companies in the US which offers e-commerce services for tabletop games including Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon, TCGplayer offers a unique service that is used by players throughout the country. These services are only made possible by employees who have over the last year seen their benefits and working conditions deteriorate.
The TCGPlayer Union Organizing Committee delivered an open letter to management signed by a majority of their coworkers announcing their intention to form a union. “Our price for quality health insurance has more than doubled. Fifteen percent of our workforce was abruptly laid off, including beloved veterans who mentored many and gave their all to the company. Friends and coworkers, already physically and mentally buckling under productivity demands, fear demotion or termination if they do not exceed those demands,” reads part of the letter signed by over 50% of the TCGPlayer workers.
However, despite receiving over $100,000 in tax exemptions from the Industrial Development Agency, TCGplayer has made drastic cuts to employee healthcare and laid off a large portion of the workforce. TCG employees, most of whom earn just over minimum wage, have faced increasing productivity demands that have compounded work safety concerns, with some employees suffering serious health concerns as a result.
“None of us want to be broken by these demands and changes and then discarded once we can’t meet them anymore… I myself have experienced this, having developed carpal tunnel syndrome after being told I was going too slow to keep my position as Fulfillment Generalist 2,” said warehouse employee Jon Secora.
By coming together to form a union with SEIU Local 200United, TCG warehouse workers hope to win a voice on the job for themselves and their coworkers.
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