Apple has been accused of union-busting at its flagship World Trade Center store in New York City. According to a complaint filed by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the iPhone-maker violated federal labor laws by interrogating workers about union activity, prohibiting employees from posting union flyers in shared spaces, and forcing workers to attend anti-union presentations.
It’s the second time the CWA has accused Apple of union-busting activity this week, with similar complaints filed in Atlanta on Tuesday. These complaints form part of a wave of union organization in retail and tech sectors, including the successful unionization of an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island. Three Apple stores have officially launched union drives so far, though Apple does not currently have any retail unions in the US.
Details of the New York City labor complaint against Apple, as reported by Bloomberg and Engadget, included accusations that Apple holds “captive audience” meetings — mandatory meetings with anti-union messages. In the past, such meetings have been allowed up until 24 hours before a union vote, but the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently changed position on this issue, saying captive audience meetings are coercive and a violation of federal labor law.
Regarding the filing at the World Trade Center store, Tim Dubnau, the deputy organizing director of the CWA, said in a press statement: “Apple retail workers across the country are demanding a voice on the job and a seat at the table. Unfortunately, and in contradiction to its stated values, Apple has responded like a typical American corporation with heavy-handed tactics designed to intimidate and coerce workers. The best thing Apple can do is allow workers to choose for themselves whether or not they want a union.”
Although Apple has not taken a public stance on unionization in its stores, it has been distributing anti-union talking points to managers (according to a report by Vice) and has hired lawyers from Littler Mendelson (a firm known for anti-union cases that previously defended McDonalds against alleged violations of labor law and is currently representing Starbucks in its own anti-union battle).