|New York, NY – New York City Comptroller Brad Lander and New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli penned a joint letter to eBay’s Board of Directors urging them to take swift action and ensure that company management comply with eBay’s stated Human Rights Policy as well as restore key language they removed from describing their commitment to workers’ rights. Specifically, the company’s current statement removed the following language: “eBay also respects workers’ rights to unionize and commits to bargain in good faith with any relevant associations or labor unions.”
“Companies thrive when their workers are supported and respected,” said New York Comptroller Lander. “The stealthy removal of the language expressly referencing fundamental freedom of workers to unionize threatens eBay’s legacy and deepened our concern as shareholders. Either eBay ignored our previous concerns or responded by removing the language about respect for workers’ rights and good faith bargaining without telling anybody–I’m not sure which would be worse. We urge the board to genuinely engage with us now. and I am thankful to Comptroller DiNapoli for his commitment to ensuring that we hold companies accountable for their promises.”
“When companies are accused of acting contrary to their stated principles and policies, it prompts concerns among shareholders,” New York State Comptroller DiNapoli said. “eBay should be working to build constructive and positive bonds with its workforce, not removing commitments to fundamental human rights. Alongside Comptroller Lander, we encourage companies to uphold their commitments on labor rights, safeguarding employees and shareholder value. We strongly urge eBay to do just that.”
The comptrollers’ letter notes that despite the company’s removal of the language, the current policy conveys plainly that eBay must strive to conduct business consistent with the principles set forth in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Fundamental Conventions. International human rights and labor standards include freedom of association and collective bargaining that are fundamental worker rights. The New York City and New York State pension funds are long-term investors in eBay, with 2.5 million shares in the company valued at $111 million as of June 30, 2023.
A group of investors including Comptrollers Lander and DiNapoli previously raised concern in June regarding reports of violations of worker rights at eBay subsidiary TCGPlayer, the online trading card marketplace and seller of games including Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh and more. In that letter to eBay Board Chair Paul S. Pressler and CEO Jamie Lannone, the Comptrollers and other signatories expressed concern over an apparent misalignment between eBay’s stated human rights commitments and the conduct of management. In response to allegations of management’s violation of U.S. labor law by surveilling employees at work, holding anti-union meetings, and noting employees who displayed support for the union at TCGPlayer, the company has seemingly altered the language of the Human Rights Policy to align with management’s actions.
Comptrollers Lander and DiNapoli gave eBay until December 4 to respond to this correspondence.
As of June 30, 2023, both pension funds collectively hold more than $500 billion in assets under management.
Read the November and June letters to eBay’s Board of Directors.