Apple 'created decoy labor group' to derail unionization
You're holding your staff meetings the wrong way
Apple has been accused of creating its own labor organization to prevent workers from forming an employee-run union, according to a complaint filed on Friday.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed a complaint with the federal US National Labor Relations Board charging Apple with unfair labor practices. The complaint [PDF] contends Apple created an employer-controlled labor group called "Employee Forum" at Apple’s Easton Town Center store in Columbus, Ohio as a way "to stifle union activity."
The Apple-run group is described in a pamphlet, according to the CWA, as "a dedicated working group that can be used as a formal means for employees and leaders to provide feedback on both local and retail organization-wide initiatives, policies and practices."
The CWA says Apple has been opposing worker efforts to organize for better pay and working conditions throughout the year and "has chosen to create a company-controlled union to coax workers away from organizing independently" rather than negotiate.
The complaint also says Apple held "a mandatory captive audience meeting in which its representative stated that [Apple] would refuse to bargain certain subjects if a Union was formed."
During this meeting, the complaint says, an Apple store leader asserted that workers could not negotiate over operational concerns and threatened to deny employees the opportunity to have personal conversations with their manager.
In a memo issued in April, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo asked the NLRB "to find mandatory meetings in which employees are forced to listen to employer speech concerning the exercise of their statutory labor rights, including captive audience meetings, a violation of the National Labor Relations Act."
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Recent efforts among Apple employees to organize began in 2021 with the launch of the #AppleToo movement and the subsequent AppleTogether group. By February 2022, according to The Washington Post, there were at least two Apple Store locations preparing to unionize and another six considering doing so.
Since then, staff at Apple Stores in Towson, Maryland and in Oklahoma City have officially recognized unions. And organization efforts have recently reached the UK.
Employees at the Apple Store in Cumberland Mall, Atlanta, filed for a union election in April but subsequently withdrew that request and alleged that Apple had engaged in unlawful union-busting. Ten days ago, the NLRB found it likely that Apple had violated the law with regard to the Atlanta organization effort, which puts pressure on Apple to agree to a settlement.
In St Louis, Missouri, Apple Store employees withdrew a request to vote on a union, based on hostility from Apple management. Workers subsequently asked the NLRB to reject the organization effort by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers on the basis that it would not offer any substantive benefit.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment. ®