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Apple union-busting charges filed at Atlanta and WTC stores


A second Apple union-busting charge has been filed against the company, alleging that the company has violated multiple federal laws at the World Trade Center store.

A previous charge of violating the National Labor Relations Act related to Apple’s response to unionization efforts at an Apple Store in Atlanta…

Background

We first learned of retail staff plans to unionize back in February, when groups at two stores were reportedly preparing paperwork to file with the National Labor Relations Board, with about six more locations at earlier stages of planning. The main concern is over wages having failed to keep up with inflation, although workers are also concerned about a range of other working condition issues.

We saw a formal start to the process at Apple’s flagship Grand Central Terminal store in New York, with a number of goals for a better deal for staff. This was followed by similar moves in Atlanta and Maryland.

Apple responded by distributing anti-union talking points to managers, in which it was suggested – among other things – that unionizing could result in fewer opportunities for promotion.

Apple union-busting charges filed

Apple is accused of “unfair labor practices” – the legal term for violations of the National Labor Relations Act, which prohibits companies from interfering with the formation or organization of a union.

Engadget reports that the Communications Workers of America (CWA) has filed one charge on behalf of Apple Store workers in Atlanta, and a second one regarding the World Trade Center store.

The labor union is accusing the tech giant of violating multiple federal labor laws at its flagship World Trade Center store. The complaint alleges that Apple interrogated workers at the WTC store regarding their “protected concerted activities.” Apple also allegedly monitored those activities, or at least made employees believe that they were being monitored […]

The group said Apple “unlawfully implemented” a rule at the store that bans employees from posting union flyers in work areas during their breaks. Further, it’s accusing the tech giant of conducting “captive-audience” speeches designed to discourage them from unionizing […]

The Communications Workers of America also filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint against Apple on behalf of workers at the Cumberland Mall store, [accusing] the company of holding mandatory captive audience meetings regarding the upcoming union election for the Atlanta location.

“Captive-audience meetings” refers to meetings that staff are required to attend as part of their duties, such as morning briefing meetings. It’s illegal for a company to use mandatory-attendance meetings to discourage unionization.

The CWA said that Apple was also not acting in accordance with its claimed values.

Apple retail workers across the country are demanding a voice on the job and a seat at the table. Unfortunately, and in contradiction to its stated values, Apple has responded like a typical American corporation with heavy-handed tactics designed to intimidate and coerce workers. The best thing Apple can do is allow workers to choose for themselves whether or not they want a union. When we learn of situations where Apple is violating labor law, we intend to keep the company accountable and help the workers defend their rights under the law.

9to5Mac’s Take

We’ve previously suggested that Apple adopt a cooperative approach to unionization moves, rather than a confrontational one. That would continue to be the company’s best course of action, from both a staff’s morale and PR perspective.

Apple union-busting activity would not be a good look at the best of times, but the fact that Apple is now being accused of going far enough to violate the law only adds to the stakes.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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