Apple Inc violated US federal labour law by interrogating staff, restricting the posting of union fliers and requiring employees to attend mandatory anti-union speeches, the Communications Workers of America alleged in a May 17 filing with the National Labor Relations Board.
The alleged conduct took place at Apple’s World Trade Center store in New York City, a CWA representative said.
Asked about the filing, an Apple spokesperson reiterated a previous comment saying the company deeply values the contributions of its retail employees. “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,” Apple said in the statement.
Apple Store employees working with several different national unions have recently announced unionisation efforts, extending a wave of retail and tech organising that has included surprising victories at a Staten Island Amazon.com Inc warehouse and dozens of Starbucks Corp cafes.
Apple staff in Atlanta are slated to vote June 2 on joining the CWA. Employees in Maryland have petitioned for a vote to be represented by the International Association of Machinists, while employees at New York City’s Grand Central station have been working with the Service Employees International Union, according to their campaign website.
CWA’s deputy organising director, Tim Dubnau, declined to say whether the union is seeking to represent the workers at Apple’s World Trade Center store, but said they are among many who have recently contacted the group.
“When we learn about Apple violating the law, we try our best to defend workers’ rights,” he said. “It’s time for them to just back off and allow workers to choose for themselves whether or not they want a union.”
While the NLRB has previously held that companies can require employees to attend anti-union meetings, the agency’s current general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo views such "captive audience” sessions as inherently coercive and illegal, and her office is pursuing cases that could change that precedent.
“I understand that the argument is that, ‘We’ve been doing this for a long time’,” Abruzzo, appointed by President Joe Biden, said in an interview last week. “But that doesn’t mean it’s right. It doesn’t mean it’s lawful.” – Bloomberg