Etsy Sellers to Form a Union after Holding a Successful Week-Long Strike

After thousands of Etsy sellers waged a weeklong strike to protest a recent 30% increase in transaction fees, they’re now organizing themselves to form a union. Kristi Cassidy, who led the strike by posting a call to action at Reddit, said the strike had brought sellers together, which made them realized they share many concerns regarding the Etsy marketplace.

In an interview with CNBC, Ms. Cassidy and other sellers who joined the strike said they are not convinced that the 30% increase in fee will translate into improvements that will benefit the sellers. According to Ms. Cassidy, who has been selling Gothic wedding dresses at Etsy since 2008, the 2018 raise in transaction fees from 3.5% to 5% had resulted in minimal payoff.

Factors Driving the Etsy Sellers to Organize and Unionize

In addition to the transaction fees, Etsy sellers pay for payment processing fees, listing fees, and shipping fees. Also, when a shopper makes a purchase after clicking on the seller’s product ad in the company’s Offsite Ads program, the seller will have to pay Etsy an additional 12% to 15% on top of all other fees paid.

As it is, smaller creators are finding it harder to turn a profit. Marie Hart says the continuing transaction fee increases and other service fees are making her art, charms and pins small  business, not sustainable. Soudabeh Rouhandeh, a small indie creator who designs art merchandise and apparel for her garment shop, said she is losing money and hours of labor over the cost of using the Etsy platform.

Some other long-time Etsy sellers have been calling on the company to take action on resellers and dropshippers who have inundated the marketplace with mass-market goods. Their presence at Etsy disconnects the platform from its origins as a marketplace for one-of-a-kind, handcrafted wares, often sold on a made to order arrangement.

Ms. Cassidy said that while they are not employees of the company, they are hoping that by banding together as a union, they can advocate for better changes. As of this writing, Etsy has not yet responded to requests for comments on the sellers’ plans to unionize.