Apple’s leaked anti-union memo warns ‘opportunities for employees’ could vanish

Apple stores in Atlanta, New York City, and Towson Maryland have filed for union elections

Adam Smith
Friday 13 May 2022 13:19
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Apple has been sending anti-union talking points to employees in the United States, according to a new report.

Motherboard obtained a leaked memo from the iPhone manufacturer, which were attached to an email sent to heads of Apple stores.

“What makes a store great is having a team that works together well,” one of the talking points says. “That can’t always happen when a union represents a store’s team members.”

It goes on: “An outside union that doesn’t know Apple or our culture would make things more complex and rigid. Leaders wouldn’t have the flexibility to act in the moment or to address each person’s unique needs.”

The memo also threatens that there could be fewer opportunities for Apple employees in a union, as well as “less attention to merit”.

It states: “Many union contracts define and limit what a particular employee is allowed to do. I can’t speculate about what would happen to Career Experiences under a union—it would be subject to negotiations—but what if the contract restricted someone from doing any work outside a narrow job classification? That could mean employees wouldn’t be able to work in a different zone or pick up work as stretch assignments.”

There is also says that Apple employees would be “placing many of our interactions into the hands of a third party”.

Research from the Economic Policy Institute has found that “unions improve wages and benefits for all workers, not just union members. They help reduce income inequality by making sure all Americans, and not just the wealthy elite, share in the benefits of their labor”.

In the United States, 65 per cent of all Americans approve of labor unions; including 83 per cent of Democrats, 64 per cent of independents and 45 per cent of Republicans as of 2020, according to American analytics company Gallup.

It is not known how many Apple employees received a copy of this memo but it was reportedly sent to multiple Apple stores.

Apple did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment before time of publication but told Motherboard that it is “fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple. We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full time and part time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits.”

Recently three Apple stores in Atlanta, New York City, and Towson Maryland have filed for union elections. Any of these would be the first Apple retail union in the United States. Apple has reportedly retained Littler Mendelson, a leading anti-union law firm, to represent it.

Apple is not the only tech giant to allegedly take an anti-union stance. Amazon fired two warehouse workers who were involved with a campaign to unionise the retail giant’s compound in Staten Island following union elections at the company’s New York City facilities.

Mat Cusick, the union’s communications director, received a letter from Amazon with notice that he was fired “due to job abandonment,” according to a copy of the letter viewed by CNBC.

A statement from Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel shared with The Independent said Mr Cusik “failed to show up for work since an approved leave ended in late April, despite our team reaching out to him and even extending his leave”.

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