Apple Withholding Employee Benefits from Staff Working at Unionized Store

In a move that could inflame labor tensions at Apple, the company is said to be withholding the latest employee benefits from the staff working at its unionized store in Maryland, Bloomberg is reporting.

Apple store

Citing people familiar with the matter, the publication notes that Apple has told its retail and corporate staff it will increase benefits for outside educational classes and health care.

The company also told its staff this week that they will get more funds to pursue coursework, and that employees in some states will be able to access new health plan benefits.

The new benefits include:

  • Apple prepaying some tuition for outside education. The company has long reimbursed employees for a portion of education costs, but the iPhone maker will now pay the amount in advance.
  • A program with Coursera Inc. beginning on Jan. 1 that gives Apple employees a free membership.
  • In certain states, including Connecticut, New York, Georgia, Washington and New Jersey, employees will get access to a new healthcare plan that waives co-pays for some Apple-approved doctors within the UnitedHealth Group Inc. network.

At the same time, however, Apple inform the employees at its unionized retail location, a store in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland, that they wouldn’t get the new perks.

The reason given was that the Towson store needs to negotiate benefits with Apple via the collective bargaining arrangement that comes with a union.

The approach isn’t unique to Apple. Excluding unionized stores from new benefits has also been a flashpoint in the labor dispute at Starbucks Corp., where about 250 cafes have voted to unionize over the past year.

Although Apple’s move could discourage employees in other cities from unionizing their stores, it may also further upset its workers.