Apple sued for allegedly firing, threatening union organizers
iGiant urged to think different about workers' rights
Apple has been accused of unlawfully firing and threatening pro-union retail store workers in two complaints filed by the Communications Workers of America with the National Labor Relations Board.
The CWA is helping staff working across multiple Apple Stores organize unions. On Monday, it filed two Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges, claiming the iGiant illegally axed five employees working at the Country Club Plaza store in Kansas City, Missouri, and punished staff at the Memorial City store in Houston, Texas. Both are seen as attempts to quash efforts to unionize.
Apple was accused of forcing some of the terminated workers to sign a "release of all claims" in exchange for a severance package in Kansas City. Last month, the NLRB ruled that employers cannot prevent former employees from speaking out about working conditions or their employers cracking down on union campaigns as part of severance agreements.
"Apple management said I was fired for a typo in my timesheet that I had documented and tried to correct. Yet, it is clear the real reason I was fired was for exercising my right to organize and win a protected voice on the job," D'lite Xiong, a former employee at the Country Club Plaza Apple Store in Kansas City, declared in a statement.
"Apple then attempted to silence me by having me sign a release in order to receive my severance package. No one working at Apple should be interrogated, intimidated, or silenced for trying to organize and win our fair share."
Meanwhile, at the Memorial City store in Houston, Apple workers were allegedly interrogated about their support for a union, and promised better working conditions if they turned their back on the CWA, according to a copy of the redacted complaint seen by The Register. Apple was also accused of threatening staff with "detrimental workplace conditions" if they continued to support the group, while some were allegedly disciplined in retaliation for organizing.
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The CWA has already filed numerous similar complaints on behalf of retail workers at Apple Stores across the Atlanta, New York, and Oklahoma City areas.
"From Starbucks to Apple, the union-busting playbook used by unimaginably wealthy corporations is always the same: isolate, intimidate, fire, and silence," said Claude Cummings Jr, Vice President of CWA District 6. "It is clear that Apple's senior management team does not respect their workers' legally protected right to organize and negotiate for better pay and working conditions."
"Apple has chosen to continue to break the law, so we will continue to hold the company accountable because no corporation is above the law. Apple's attempt to interfere with worker organizing is only strengthening the resolve of workers to win a seat at the negotiating table."
Apple declined to comment.
Other union groups – like the Fruit Stand Workers United and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) – have also waged campaigns against Apple. The IAMAW-backed Coalition of Organized Retail Employees committee representing an Apple Store in Towson, Maryland, became the first group to win a union election last year. ®