Apple moves to head off employee union efforts


Apple moves to head off employee union efforts
It seems Apple won't sit quietly while its retail employees unionize.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple is reportedly working with Littler Mendelson, a law firm with a history of helping companies prevent their employees from unionizing. The move comes in the wake of workers at several Apple stores moving to form unions.

If true, then Apple is going to do what it can to prevent the thousands of employees at its 250+ retail locations in the United States from organizing for collective bargaining.

Apple could be anti-union

Apple employs 80,000 people in all 50 states. Its retail workers are the first to move toward collective bargaining, but large labor organizations are interested in bringing in more Apple employees, just as they are helping workers at Amazon and Starbucks around the country to organize.

Last week, employees at an Apple retail store in Atlanta became the first to submit a petition to the National Labor Relations Board asking to become a union. Others are expected to follow their example.

So far, the main concern is higher pay, as rising inflation eats into what employees earn. In Atlanta, the group wants $28 an hour starting pay, up from around $20. More than 70% of the store’s 100 or so employees reportedly signed union authorization cards.

Apple turned to San Francisco-based Littler Mendelson to craft a response, according to The Verge. The law firm helps companies — including Starbucks — with anti-union efforts.

“Our deep experience in representing management serves as a strong counterpoint to the world’s most powerful labor organizations,” says the firm’s website. “We guide companies in developing and initiating strategies that lawfully avoid unions.”

Communications Workers of America helps Apple union drive

Apple employees seeking to unionize brought in outside help, too. The group in Atlanta teamed up with the Communications Workers of America. And the CWA slammed Apple’s hiring of Littler Mendelson.

“By retaining the notorious union busting firm Littler Mendelson, Apple’s management is showing that they intend to try to prevent their employees from exercising their right to join a union by running the same playbook as other large corporations,” CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens told The Verge. “The workers at Starbucks, another Littler client, aren’t falling for it and neither will the workers at Apple.”

The CWA hopes to create the Apple Workers Union with all types of employees, not just retail ones.

Apple takes a soft tone on the union issue.

“We are fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple,” the company said in a statement. “We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full time and part time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits.”


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