Apple appears to have taken the most aggressive step yet to warn its retail employees against unionizing. According Bloomberg, the company recently held meetings at all of its approximately 270 stores across the United States to “discuss the risks of unionization.” The tone of the rallies was “consistent” across Apple’s business footprint. The managers reportedly started with a statement prepared by company management before turning to the state of labor negotiations in Towson, Maryland, the location of the company’s headquarters. first unionized store in the United States.
According BloombergApple’s management made the election to Towson, and the slow progress store workers did to get a collective bargaining agreement “like a bit of a cautionary tale.” Managers relied on talking points that were critical of union dues and the organizing process, including the collection of clearance cards. “Although Apple hasn’t said so, the underlying message to the company’s tens of thousands of employees: If your store unionizes, you could be at a disadvantage,” according to Bloomberg.
Apple did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the union that represents workers at the company’s Townson Town Center site in Maryland, said it would share a statement on Monday.
Bloomberg suggests that some employees saw the meetings as a “scare tactic” and an attempt to “pour cold water on the idea” of unionization. Last May, employees at the Apple Store in Atlanta accused the company to subject them to captive anti-union hearings. For decades, companies have been allowed to hold such rallies up to 24 hours before the start of a union election. In 2022, however, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo claimed that meetings with a captive audience were a violation of national labor relations law.
“Forcing employees to listen to such employer speech under threat of disciplinary action – directly taking advantage of employees’ addiction to their jobs – clearly chills employees’ protected right to refrain from listening to such speech” , Abruzzo written last april. By the end of the year, the agency had found Apple violated federal law with its efforts to discourage workers at its Cumberland Mall store in Atlanta from unionizing.