Workers at Apple’s Cumberland Mall retail store in Atlanta are accusing the company of union busting through captive audience meetings featuring anti-union rhetoric — reports The Verge.
The Cumberland Mall Apple store last month became the first of the tech giant’s U.S. locations to file for a union election. Stores in New York City and Towson, Maryland have since followed with union drives of their own, with several others currently in the process of organizing.
Apple employees say they are unionizing to have a voice in deciding their pay, hours, and benefits. Workers want to push Apple, the world’s (second) most valuable company, to share more of its wealth with its frontline workers.
The Communications Workers of America, the labour union organizing workers at the Atlanta store, filed an unfair labour practice report with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Tuesday.
The filing alleges that Apple has violated the National Labor Relations Act by holding mandatory-attendance meetings at the store, where managers convey overt anti-union messaging to workers.
Last week, a leaked memo from Apple revealed that the company is circulating anti-union talking points to store managers. The script has been incorporated into daily start-of-shift meetings, known internally as “downloads,” at the Atlanta store and beyond in recent weeks.
While the NLRB has historically allowed captive audience meetings up until 24 hours before a union election, an April 7th memo from NLRB general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo argued that the practice violates the National Labor Relations Act.
“This license to coerce is an anomaly in labor law, inconsistent with the Act’s protection of employees’ free choice,” wrote Abruzzo. “It is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of employers’ speech rights.”
Taking Abruzzo’s stance into account, it is possible that the NLRB will not be as accommodating of captive audience meetings going forward.
While Apple has not taken an anti-union stance in public, the leaked talking points speak volumes. The Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker last month also retained the notorious anti-union law firm Littler Mendelson to represent it on all union-related matters.