June 10, 2023

Apple’s first unionized workers say the company is withholding new benefits

Organizers at Apple’s Towson Town Center, Maryland store say the company is not telling the whole truth when it comes to withholding benefits from employees at the location. As the company’s first retail location to unionize in the U.S. moves to negotiate a contract, workers say they are struggling to negotiate their benefits.

In a letter to Tim Cook, the bargaining committee says it is disappointed to learn that the company is not offering on-site workers the new health and training benefits offered to other retail workers. The union also says Apple has spread “misinformation” by saying workers would have to negotiate for those benefits to be included in the contract.

“Apple’s management has not yet provided our union with any information about the new benefits”

“This communication lacks key context related to the process of change within the union and the fact that we can and will include these (and any new benefits) in our collective bargaining proposal,” says the letter you will receive. you can read in full below. However, the union also claims that Apple has made it difficult to negotiate these benefits by not sharing “any details” about them.

Apple did not respond The Vergen several comments on the union’s accusations.

The union, known as IAM CORE (CORE stands for Coalition of Organized Retail Employees, and the organization works in partnership with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers), won the union election in June by nearly two to one. Since then, workers in other locations say the company has continued to resist unionization, and the Communications Workers of America have filed complaints about Apple’s behavior in New York and Oklahoma.

Notably, reports of Apple’s withholding allowances came days before the Oklahoma store was scheduled to hold union elections, which IAM CORE’s letter said was a “calculated” move. If it was, it didn’t work: Workers at Oklahoma City’s Penn Square store voted 56-32 to unionize.

Still, union efforts are still underway at Apple stores in New York and Atlanta, where the threat of withheld benefits could sway votes or even stop elections from being held altogether. The union involved in the Atlanta campaign canceled the vote in May, saying Apple had made it impossible to hold a fair election.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg broke the news of Apple’s effort to withhold Towson benefits and gave some details on what employees might be missing out on; the list included a free subscription to Coursera, prepayment at some colleges (compared to the reimbursement model Apple usually uses), and new health plan options. The publication quoted Harvard Law School professor Benjamin Sachs as saying there was nothing stopping the company from offering those benefits to unionized workers.

Wilma Liebman, chairman of the Labor Relations Board, said Bloomberg that the company’s decision to withhold benefits could be in violation of labor law, saying it was “difficult to see how they could come up with a legitimate reason for the timing other than to affect the outcome of the election.” Employers also may not “refuse to provide union-requested information related to the bargaining process,” according to the NLRB’s website.

As for the Maryland workers, they hope the letter will spark a conversation with company and trade leaders. IAM President Robert Martinez Jr. promised in a press release that he would “sit down with CEO Cook at any time” to support union members in Towson.

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