Apple Holds Anti-Union Meetings at Retail Stores in Pushback: Report

In this week’s edition of his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman reported that Apple is continuing to push back against unionization at its retail stores with recent meetings designed to caution workers against organizing.

Over the past two weeks, managers at Apple’s roughly 270 US retail outlets held meetings with staff members to discuss the risks of unionization and provide a planned update on bargaining between the company and the first unionized store, a location in Towson, Maryland.

According to Gurman, the latest meetings come after a bit of a slowdown in Apple’s anti-union efforts, which previously saw the tech giant charged with breaking federal law for using illegal means to suppress unionization.

Apple’s previous efforts to stave off unionization were pretty successful. Only two Apple Stores in the U.S. have unionized — one in Towson, Maryland, and another in Oklahoma City — and locations in Atlanta and St. Louis that were aggressively pursuing unionization have scrapped their efforts.

In recent store meetings, managers at Apple’s retail locations delivered prepared messages from corporate to workers and used the state of the Towson store, where workers have joined the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, or IAM, as a cautionary tale.

Management told employees that the IAM is asking the Towson store employees it represents for dues that amount to 1.5% of their pay, which the company noted could quickly add up over time. Furthermore, Apple said that employees who don’t agree to the payment could be let go within a month, based on the union’s proposals.

According to Apple, the unionized Towson store is giving more priority to full-time employees to want to take weekend days off, putting part-time workers at a disadvantage, and is also giving longer-tenured employees preference over new workers for jobs.

The company also warned workers that joining a union risks giving a third party the authority to make changes without employee permission.

“While Apple didn’t say it, the underlying message to the company’s tens of thousands of retail employees was clear: If your store unionizes, you may be at a disadvantage,” said Gurman.

Apple has begun negotiations with the unionized Towson store. So far, the IAM has made about 20 proposals, only one of which Apple has tentatively agreed to, while the company has made two proposals of its own. When the Towson store voted to unionize last year, Apple withheld employee benefits from workers at the location.

Earlier this week, one report indicated that Apple’s corporate retail teams could soon see their first layoffs.