An employee arranges Apple iPhones as a customer store at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue shortly after new products go on sale in Manhattan, New York City, March 18, 2022.
Mike Segar | Reuters
Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s head of retail and human relations, told employees in a video this week that joining a union has disadvantages and that Apple believes unions are not committed to their employees.
Apple has not publicly said that it opposes recent union initiatives at several US retail stores, but the message to employees shows that it is discouraging employees from entering into collective bargaining agreements.
“I want to start by saying that it is your right to join a union, but it is equally your right not to join a union,” O’Brien said, according to the audio published by Vice. “If you are faced with this decision, I encourage you to consult with a wide range of people and sources to understand what it might be like to work at Apple under a collective bargaining agreement.”
In the comments, O’Brien says he believes Apple responds to employee concerns and that a union would make it harder for company employees to resolve issues raised by workers.
Apple faces at least three union moves among its more than 270 US stores. A store at Cumberland Mall in Atlanta will vote to join the Communications Workers of America on June 2. Another store in Towson, Maryland will vote in late June to be organized with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Employees at a third store in New York City are currently collecting signatures to officially show interest in the organization.
Union organizers said they want a voice on workplace issues such as Covid safety rules in stores, as well as higher wages to keep up with the rising cost of living. Organizers at Grand Central Terminal in New York asked for at least $30 an hour.
Apple retail workers are organizing amid a significant revival of union interest in the US with President Biden’s backing. More than 50 Starbucks stores have unionized across the country. An Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, was unionized earlier this year. No Apple stores in the US have yet been unionized, although there are collective bargaining agreements with retail employees in other countries.
An Apple representative declined to comment. The company previously said it offers strong compensation and benefits to retail employees, including a minimum wage above $20 an hour.