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Tabletop Gaming Union Negotiations Sidetracked By Lawyer Allegedly Calling Workers ‘Fucking Disgusting’ and That They Should ‘Burn in Hell’

The tenor of union negotiations can really be a roll of the dice.

(Fox & Hyde / Unsplash)

For workers at Tabletop Workers United, which represents dozens of staffers at Hex & Company, a chain of five tabletop gaming stores across New York City, the first few months of contract negotiations have been difficult. Workers told Hell Gate that meetings with management have started late or been canceled, proposals for increased diversity have been met with ridicule, and at the most recent meeting, workers say they were told to "burn in hell," by a lawyer negotiating on behalf of the company. Surely, unionizing workers have faced serious pushback from management before, but eternal damnation? 

"Their attorney went off on us about his own politics seemingly, about the situation in Gaza and Palestine, and started attacking us over a tweet a few months ago that was deleted," said Gianluca Percovich, a worker at three of the company's locations, who has been with the company off-and-on since 2021, in an interview with Hell Gate. "He told us we should 'burn in hell' for an unrelated political topic, at a table where we're supposed to be figuring out the details of working conditions for people. He scoffed at our remarks, interrupting us. He said we were 'fucking disgusting.'"

The May 7 meeting was derailed, union members say, when the union brought up whether its members would be able to collect dues that could go towards its Political Action Committee. Tabletop Workers United is affiliated with the larger Workers United NY/NJ, which has unionized 17 Starbucks locations across downstate New York, and is also part of the larger Workers United effort. A lawyer for Hex & Company brought up the Starbucks United union's now-deleted October 9 tweet, which read "Solidarity with Palestine!" and ultimately led to a lawsuit between the union and Starbucks over the use of its trademark and colors (one that is now reaching a settlement). 

Hex & Company management didn't deny that the comments were made by their lawyer.

"During a recent bargaining session, the Union demanded that the Company assist in collecting contributions for its political action committee. Understandably, our legal team, some of whom are Jewish, were upset that Tabletop Worker members would want to financially support the Workers United PAC, who had supported Hamas in a social media post just hours after the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023," Hex & Company owners Greg May and Jon Freeman told Hell Gate in a statement. "The commentary by our lawyer was directed at the Worker’s United organizers (including their Political Director) who were in attendance."

The owners did however, dispute social media posts by the union that claim the owners themselves made disparaging remarks about workers. "It's important to note that ownership did not make any of the comments that have been recently attributed to us. Neither Jon Freeman nor Greg May said these things or anything similar, contrary to defaming statements made by the Tabletop Workers United Instagram account (and posted elsewhere)," the owners said in a statement. "This sensationalized propaganda is one of many examples that demonstrate the Union isn't operating in good faith."

When we called the office of the lawyer representing Hex & Company, a person answering the phone told us they were unavailable and then hung up. 

"It's totally inappropriate and unprofessional," said Percovich, of the remarks by the attorney. "He's acting like a kind of customer that we'd have to remove from the store."

During their contract negotiations, Percovich and other workers have been rallying for higher pay, more discrete job responsibilities, and even more equitable treatment of Magic: The Gathering players. Percovich says that workers often act as bartenders, after-school counselors, dungeon masters, baristas, and shift supervisors. But instead of getting down to talking about issues that really matter to workers, they're getting sidetracked by incidents like the one on May 7. 

"Being involved in the hobbies that we're supposed to be experts in is really out of the financial reach of many of the staff members," Percovich told Hell Gate. "And that's what we should really be talking about."

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