Apple accused of hindering employee efforts to unionize | Cult of Mac

Apple accused of hindering employee efforts to unionize

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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

Workers attempting to form unions at multiple Apple retail stores allege the iPhone-maker is breaking federal labor laws in its attempts to block these efforts.

If the allegations bear out, it’s more than a bit hypocritical – Apple requires its component suppliers to allow their employees to join unions.

Apple allegedly blocking attempts to unionize retail locations

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.

However, Apple is reportedly trying to head off their efforts. The Communications Workers of America is assisting retail employees at stores in New York City and Atlanta in unionizing, and has now filed two complaints against Apple, according to Engadget.

These allege that Apple prevents employees from posting pro-union fliers in their break rooms. And the company is supposedly holding mandatory meetings in which employees are urged to not form a union.

These moves possibly come at the suggestion of Littler Mendelson, a law firm with a history of helping companies prevent their employees from unionizing. Apple reportedly retained this firm after the employee union efforts began.

Tim Dubnau, CWA’s Deputy Organizing Director, told Engadget, “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.”

So far, the main concern among the workers seeking to unionize 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.

Apple requires suppliers to be pro-union

The Apple Supplier Responsibility Standards have a very different take on unions.

The standards state, “Supplier shall respect Workers’ lawful rights to form or participate (or refrain from forming or participating) in organizations of their choosing, including but not limited to unions, Worker committees, or other Worker associations, and bargain collectively without interference, discrimination, retaliation, or harassment.”

If the CWA allegations bear out, Apple itself is not living up to the rules it requires its supporters to follow.