Apple Accused of ‘Interrogating’ Pro-Union Employees by National Labor Review Board In Complaint

Over the past few months, companies have been ramping up their anti-union activities amid a swell of labor organizing.
Apple Accused of 'Interrogating' Pro-Union Employees by National Labor Review Board In Complaint
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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a complaint against Apple, accusing it of discriminating against pro-union workers at its World Trade Center store. The same store is holding a union vote this month, which if successful would make it the second U.S. store to unionize.

This complaint traces back to charges filed back in May, when the Communication Workers of America (CWA) union, along with organizers at Apple locations in New York, Atlanta, and Oklahoma, alleged the company had violated multiple labor laws as part of a union-busting effort targeting staff at the World Trade Center location. CWA and labor organizers alleged that the company "interrogated its employees about their support for the Union” and selectively barred workers from distributing union fliers. The complaint alleges that Apple has  been "interfering with, restraining and coercing employees" in the exercise of their labor rights.


Last year, stores in New York, Atlanta, and Townson, MD., began to organize and saw Apple deploy similar tactics in an attempt to smother the nascent effort. Store managers were trained to deter union organizing by warning scheduling might become inflexible and promotions would be scarce, promising hourly wage increases, and giving anti-union speeches. Thanks to these union-busting efforts, Apple has been able to stall union drives in some locations—Atlanta's Cumberland Mall location ended up abandoning its union election altogether.

Over the past year, companies have been accelerating their union busting activities in the face of an upswell of activity. Starbucks has been accused multiple times by the NLRB of retaliating against pro-union workers at stores that have completed or are considering union drives. Amazon has deployed similar efforts at unionizing stores, using captive anti-union meetings and promises of wage increases, to deter union activity. 

Still, these efforts have not been enough to completely block unionizing efforts across the nation. Starbucks has seen more than 300 stores vote to unionize, with well over 80 percent voting yes. Amazon recently lost its first union election at a Staten Island warehouse, lost an effort to overturn the vote, and is facing upcoming votes in Albany and 

In the complaint, an NLRB regional director lays out that Apple may be forced to display notices to all employees by email, text messaging, social media posts, or internal/intranet communications informing them of their rights, and to train managers to follow labor laws. 

Apple has time now to respond to the allegations and make its case. If the company and CWA don't come to an agreement, then a hearing will be scheduled for December 13. 

Apple did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.