Apple union push faces setback; Atlanta organizers withdraw bid to vote
Shoppers pass through the Apple Store in Franklin Park Mall during Black Friday. Shoppers are going to stores to take advantage of Black Friday sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stephen Zenner | SOPA photos | Light Rocket | Getty Images
A union vote at an Apple store at the Cumberland Mall in Atlanta is called into question after the union trying to organize retail workers withdrew its application for an election.
The Telecommunications Workers’ Union of America alleged in a statement that Apple had violated labor laws and made fair elections impossible. In addition, the CWA said there are increasing numbers of Covid cases in store, which could affect voting due to worker health concerns.
The vote was scheduled for next week. If successful, it will be the first unified Apple Store in the United States.
This development represents a setback for Apple workers’ efforts to form unions at the company’s retail stores in the United States, and in addition to the Cumberland Mall site, at least three other Apple stores have workers who lead general unions. A union vote for store workers in Maryland is scheduled for June 15.
“The vast majority of workers at the Cumberland Mall store announced they were forming a union in April and requested recognition from the company,” a CWA representative said in a statement. “Since then, Apple has carried out a systematic and sophisticated campaign to intimidate them and interfere with their right to form a ‘behaviour’ syndicate. [that] Violates US law, the Apple Doctrine and Vendor Code of Conduct, and international human rights standards.”
“We are not moving forward with the election given Apple’s responsiveness and the coercive environment they have created,” the Cumberland Mall Organizing Committee said in a letter to store co-workers.
“It is a disgrace that Apple chose to spend tens of thousands of dollars to pay salaries to a third party, outside the law firm of “avoiding union,” abandoning its stated values, aggressively and deceptively bankrupting a union in our store, interfering in our legal affairs and the right to organize a union.” .
She said Atlanta store organizers would “reset” and work with other stores to prepare them for future union drives.
Atlanta store workers applied for a union campaign in April, when organizers said more than 70% of store employees had signed cards indicating they were interested in being represented by the CWA.
Since then, Apple has faced accusations that it deploys anti-union tactics that violate labor laws. The CWA said in an Unfair Labor Practices file earlier this month that store managers have held “captive group meetings,” in which workers are required to attend meetings that include anti-union talking points.
Earlier this week, Apple’s head of retail and human resources said, in a video distributed internally, that she believes unions will make it difficult for Apple managers to respond to employee concerns and that unions are not committed to their employees.
Covid Mall regulators are demanding more transparency in how workers are paid, commitment to diversity in management and increased Covid safety measures for employees.
“We are fortunate to have such incredible members of the retail team and we deeply appreciate everything they do for Apple,” an Apple representative said in response to a question about the vote in Atlanta, saying the company offers solid compensation and benefits.
Earlier this week, Apple announced that it would increase the starting wages of retail employees to $22 an hour. In the letter to co-workers, the Cumberland Mall Organizing Committee said the unplanned increases were a direct result of the regulation campaign.
“Thanks to what we started here in Atlanta, Apple will give all employees in all stores an unplanned increase. And that’s because of us,” the organizing committee said.