Apple is training retail store managers on how to try and unionize employees, according to Vice . The report states that the agency sent a document full of conversations, such as “an outside union that does not know Apple” or its culture or “most union preferences are based on seniority.” The document encourages store leaders to “touch base” with employees about potential union activity.
It comes at a time when several Apple retailers have union drives – two have formally applied to the National Labor Relations Board to select a union, and another is seeking to do so. It is quite clear that Apple will try to counter this effort; The agency has hired anti-union lawyers and at least one staff member said Kinara said the agency had held a closed-door audience meeting to spread anti-union rhetoric. However, it is still interesting to see the kind of argument the company is using.
The document, which is embedded in the Vice ‘s report, states that it may not be possible for store employees to work together as a team if a union represents them, stating that a union will “actually speak out ” about work-related issues. Original emphasis). It cites managers as citing a time when Apple listened to retailers’ responses and made changes based on them, and then warned that a union could “make matters more complicated and tough.” According to the document, leaders will not have the “flexibility to act at the moment or to address the unique needs of each individual.”
There are issues that warn of “a strict union agreement that must be followed at all times” that make it difficult for workers to seize unusual opportunities or get merit-based benefits. What if a union contract makes it so that workers can do just what their job description says, it asks.
According to Vice , some Apple store managers are passing on the company’s message during weekly meetings.
If some of these points sound familiar, it’s probably because they’re used by other companies. Led by its own union election, Amazon allegedly held a captive audience meeting where workers were told that the interests of union negotiators might not be in line with theirs. The company’s CEO called unions “slower and more bureaucratic” than employees with direct connections to their managers.
It is also worth noting that even Apple’s point of view acknowledges that supposed downsides are not something inherent in unions – the agreements do not impose strict working conditions, or prioritize seniority. And while Apple stores have established unions involved with Union Drive, the organizers themselves are Apple employees, despite the company’s claim that “many of our interactions are with third parties.”