The loss of its major trading card licenses has forced Upper Deck through several rounds of layoffs over the last three years. A few more workers were let go last month including public relations manager Terry Melia.
“On Friday, July 22, I was laid off from the Upper Deck Company,” Melia wrote in an email. “After 14 years of dedicated service, my number finally came up. I was one of five employees who got the boot in yet another round of cost-cutting measures.”
Upper Deck had over 400 employees as recently as 2007 but has since laid off dozens and downsized its southern California headquarters in an effort to remain a viable player in the sports card industry. The company which once owned licenses to print cards for all four major sports, has a licensing deal with the NHL for hockey cards and another with Collegiate Licensing Company to print cards of players in their college uniforms.
The company went through two rounds of layoffs when the economy began struggling in 2008, including 60 in November of that year.
Dozens more were let go in 2009 and in 2010, after the NBA gave Panini its exclusive rights and the NFL and Major League Baseball also moved in other directions, 119 lost their jobs in one round of cutbacks. Fewer workers were needed to design products, work with distributors and handle other duties associated with being a partner with a major pro sports league.
The company has also been a party to several lawsuits, including one involving Topps, another vs. Konami Entertainment, one filed by Major League Baseball and another filed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
They have maintained endorsement and autograph contracts with some of sports’ major stars, however, including Michael Jordan.