As one Apple Store votes against forming union, another may go on strike

Staff in Maryland want better pay and steady schedules; New Jersey doesn't want to rock the boat

It's been a labor-(movement)-intensive few days for Apple, which found out it faces a potential employee strike at one store, while elsewhere defeating another union organizing vote about which its organizers are calling foul. 

Apple retail workers in Short Hills, New Jersey, turned down union representation with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) on a vote of 41-57 at the end of last week. 

The election came days after the CWA filed a complaint to America's National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging Apple had retaliated against one of its employees for leading union efforts at the NJ store. The CWA alleged Apple subjected him to "unprecedented multiple meetings," and denied the staffer's requests for leave. 

"I have been open about my support of the union, and I think that Apple was trying to send a message by targeting me for supposed 'failures to communicate' and preventing me from using my accrued leave," said John Nagy, the allegedly targeted employee. 

If true, it wouldn't be the first time Apple has been accused of interfering with labor organization efforts at its retail locations. While the complaint against Apple in Short Hills was lodged last week, the NLRB ruled Apple had broken the law by suppressing unionization efforts at one of its New York City retail stores. 

Multiple other NLRB actions are still pending against Apple. 

The CWA didn't tell The Register whether it plans to appeal to the NLRB for a new election in Short Hills, but did say it thought the election was another example of Apple "fail[ing] to respect the rights of its employees to freely choose to join a union. 

"Instead of leaving the decision up to the workers themselves, the company turned to its usual anti-union playbook to influence the results of the election," a CWA spokesperson said. "This is not an isolated incident."

"Apple's union-busting is a widespread problem that underscores workers' need to have an independent voice on the job to ensure the company lives up to its credo," the CWA added in a statement. 

Maryland, meanwhile, prepares to march

The gulf between Apple retail employees in New Jersey and Towson, Maryland, couldn't be more pronounced: While one shop didn't even want to unionize, the other is officially preparing a walkout.

Towson Apple Store staff, who organize with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers' Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (IAM CORE), has voted to go on strike after a year of negotiations with Apple failed, we're told, to yield a satisfactory agreement on a number of issues. 

Work-life balance concerns, unpredictable scheduling headaches, and wages not keeping up with the local cost of living are among the problems IAM CORE and Apple can't iron out. 

"The passage of the strike sanction vote highlights IAM CORE's unwavering commitment to advocating for the rights and well-being of workers in the face of challenges," the IAM CORE negotiating committee said. "As discussions with Apple management continue, we remain committed to securing tangible improvements that benefit all employees."  

It's not clear if or when the union may actually enact a work stoppage, with the organization saying such a decision would be determined by its governing body, and calling a physical strike "potential," rather than inevitable. We've reached out with questions, but haven't heard back. 

Apple hasn't responded to questions about either matter. ®

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