Apple allegedly bullied retail workers into overturning union vote

Apple Cumberland Mall will not become the first Apple store with a union.
Picture: Apple

Employees at an Apple store in Atlanta won’t vote to form a union after all. They withdrew their application to the National Labor Relations Board and said Apple had waged “a systematic and sophisticated campaign to intimidate them.”

It’s still unclear how this will affect employees trying to unionize at an Apple store in New York.

Apple Store in Atlanta ends union efforts

Retail employees make up a large percentage of Apple’s workforce, and none of them are currently unionized. A pair of stores have started an effort to change that. However, Apple reportedly did its best to nip union campaigns in the bud.

Apple Cumberland Mall in suburban Atlanta was to hold a union vote after 70% of its workers signed support cards. But Communications Workers of America, the union that helps employees organize, sent out a statement on Friday saying the election had been called off.

“Apple has waged a systematic and sophisticated campaign to intimidate them and interfere with their right to form a union,” the CWA statement said. “We are not moving forward with the election given Apple’s response and the coercive environment they have created.”

Go against the unions

Apple has spoken out against employee efforts to unionize. The Communications Workers of America filed two complaints with the NLRB accusing the iPhone maker of intimidating workers.

Apple also hired Littler Mendelson, a law firm that has a history of helping companies prevent employees from unionizing.

And Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and human resources, sent an anti-union video to employees this week.

“I worry about what it would mean to put another organization in the middle of our relationship,” O’Brien said in the video. “An organization that doesn’t have a deep understanding of Apple or our business. And most importantly, one that I don’t believe shares our commitment to you.

Going through: CNBC and Bloomberg

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