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Apple Retail Employees in Atlanta Withdraw Request for Union Election, Alleging ‘Intimidation’

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The labour union representing retail workers at an Apple store in Atlanta, Georgia, is dropping its request for a union election, claiming the tech giant used illegal union-busting tactics to prevent workers from organizing — reports Bloomberg.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) said in a Friday statement it is withdrawing its petition “because Apple’s repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act have made a free and fair election impossible.”

The labour group also said there has been a resurgence of COVID-19 among workers at the store, which “raised concerns about the ability of eligible employees to vote and the safety of in-person voting.”

This store, located in Atlanta’s Cumberland Mall, last month became the first of Apple’s U.S. locations to file for a union election. The CWA noted it had the support of an “overwhelming majority” of the retail store’s workers when the group submitted its bid for a union election.

Voting was scheduled to take place from June 2 through June 4 in what would have been the first NLRB election at an Apple store.

“Apple has conducted a systematic, sophisticated campaign to intimidate them and interfere with their right to form a union,” said the CWA. Once the election application is withdrawn, the CWA will be barred by NLRB rules from representing the same group of workers for at least six months.

Unionization efforts at the Atlanta store may lose traction, but the campaigns they sparked at several other Apple stores across the country are alive and kicking. Retail workers in New York City and Towson, Maryland followed in Atlanta’s footsteps and are conducting union drives of their own.

Apple hasn’t sat idly by, though. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant was found to be circulating anti-union talking points to store managers and has even retained the anti-union law firm Littler Mendelson to represent it.

Earlier this week, Apple’s Senior Vice President of retail and human resources Deirdre O’Brien told employees that unionization efforts could slow workplace progress. Apple on Wednesday followed up with an increase in its overall compensation budget that hikes starting pay for hourly workers up to $22 USD per hour, and also provides raises to salaried employees.

When asked about the election withdrawal, Apple said it was “fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple.”

“We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full-time and part-time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits,” said the company.

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