🔨 Apple Withholding
As the company with the world's largest market capitalization continues to face a rising tide of worker unionization, a new strategy may be emerging. According to Bloomberg, Apple's sole unionized store (a retail location in Towson, Maryland) will not get new employee benefits because they need to be negotiated with the union. Meanwhile, as a second Apple store (this one in Oklahoma City) votes to unionize, CNBC reports that "Apple management held anti-union meetings and threatened to withhold perks from stores that unionized."
"We believe the open, direct and collaborative relationship we have with our valued team members is the best way to provide an excellent experience for our customers, and for our teams," reads an Apple statement, notes CNBC.
Yet, former NLRB Chair Wilma Liebman told Bloomberg, "it’s hard to see how they could come up with a legitimate reason" for withholding their new benefits "other than to influence the outcome of the election" of the Oklahoma City store's employees.
These new perks include some prepaid tuition to a growing list of colleges, free membership to Coursera, and new healthcare benefits to employees in certain states.
A Repeating Pattern
Apple has employed firm Littler Mendelson to assist with its anti-union efforts, and the strategy has followed a similar path as that of Starbucks and Activision Blizzard, who also hired the employment law firm, reports TechCrunch. In all three cases, new benefits to staff were released just ahead of new unionization votes. In fact, Activision Blizzard "attempted to withhold raises from employees who were in the midst of unionizing, arguing that the company was following labor laws that prohibit employers from changing compensation in the midst of elections," says TechCrunch. Yet, in both the video game company and Starbucks's case, the NLRB sided with union complaints against the corporate tactics.
It's true that Apple (and Starbucks and Activision Blizzard) were following labor law rules. Furthermore, these new employee benefits from Apple are not yet confirmed. Given all that, the timing of things can be seen as rather suspicious.