The Cumberland store is one of three retail locations where workers have launched official union drives. Many more are in the process of organizing. Apple hasn’t said publicly whether or not it supports the union, but the company has distributed anti-union talking points to some store managers, according to Vice. It has also hired well-known anti-union lawyers from Littler Mendelson to respond to the Atlanta union campaign. The company has started posting a two-page note in retail stores laying out Apple’s benefits and commitment to diversity and inclusion.
According to the union, the tech titan staged captive audience meetings in Atlanta. Employees at an Apple retail location in Atlanta are accusing the firm of breaching the National Labor Relations Act by hosting captive audience sessions to oppose an ongoing union campaign at the location. The Communications Workers of America, which is organising the store, filed an unfair labour practise report earlier today. In April, employees at the Cumberland Mall Apple shop filed for a union election. They claim that, while they enjoy working for the corporation, they would like more control over their salaries, perks, and store health policies.
Captive audience meetings are a controversial tactic in which workers are required by their bosses to attend meetings with anti-union messaging. Historically, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has allowed captive audience meetings up until the 24-hour period before an election. But an April 7th memo from NLRB general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo argued that such meetings violate the National Labor Relations Act, indicating that the board will take more aggressive action against the tactic going forward.
“This license to coerce is an anomaly in labor law, inconsistent with the Act’s protection of employees’ free choice,” Abruzzo wrote. “It is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of employers’ speech rights.” The new policy is particularly relevant given Apple’s management practices for its retail employees. The company’s retail store shifts typically begin with a “daily download” meeting where leaders share news about the company. Since the union efforts have started to gain national attention, workers at brick and mortar locations across the country tell The Verge these meetings have started to incorporate themes like how to maintain a store’s culture and take advantage of existing benefits, as well as overt anti-union talking points.