Apple store associates in Atlanta accuse the company of violating the National Labor Relations Act by holding public rallies to counter ongoing union action at the location. The Communications Workers of America, which is working to organize the store, filed an unfair employment lawsuit earlier today and reported the activity.
Workers at the Apple Store in Cumberland Mall filed for union elections in April. They say that while they love the company, they would like to have more say in their compensation, benefits and health protocols.
The Cumberland store is one of three retail locations where employees have launched official union actions. Many more are in the works.
Apple has not said publicly whether or not it supports the union, but the company has been spreading anti-union talks, according to some store managers. vice† It has also hired well-known Littler Mendelson anti-union attorneys to respond to the union campaign in Atlanta.
The company has begun posting a two-page note in stores explaining Apple’s benefits and commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Captive audience meetings are a controversial tactic in which employees are required by their bosses to attend meetings with anti-union messages. Historically, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has allowed public rallies in captivity up to the 24-hour period before an election. But an April 7 memo from NLRB’s general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, argued that such meetings violate the National Labor Relations Act, indicating the board will act more aggressively against the tactic in the future.
“This authorization to enforce is an anomaly in labor law, contrary to the protection of workers’ free choice,” Abruzzo wrote. “It’s based on a fundamental misunderstanding of employers’ rights of opinion.”
The new policy is particularly relevant given Apple’s management practices for its store associates. The company’s store shifts usually begin with a “daily download” meeting where leaders share news about the company. Since union efforts have begun to gain national attention, workers in physical locations across the country are telling: The edge these meetings started with themes such as how to preserve a store’s culture and take advantage of existing benefits, as well as open discussion points against unions.