Atlanta Apple Store Employees Drop Bid for Union Vote Next Week

Josh Eidelson, reporting for Bloomberg:

The labor group trying to organize Apple Inc. employees at an Atlanta store is withdrawing its request for an election, citing what it alleges are illegal union-busting tactics by the company.

The Communications Workers of America said it took the step “because Apple’s repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act have made a free and fair election impossible,” according to an emailed statement Friday. The labor group also cited Covid-19 infections among staff at the store, located at the city’s Cumberland Mall, which it said “have raised concerns about the ability of eligible employees to vote and the safety of in-person voting.”

Translation: the vote was going to fail.

Complaining of illegal tactics is one thing, but crying “can’t vote because of COVID” feels like flailing for an excuse. I don’t know how many Cumberland Mall store employees currently have COVID (and Bloomberg, notably, doesn’t say either), but the store is open with normal hours. Throughout the entire pandemic, Apple has aggressively closed stores proactively.

As for those purported illegal tactics:

“Apple has conducted a systematic, sophisticated campaign to intimidate them and interfere with their right to form a union,” the CWA said. Under NLRB rules, a union’s choice to withdraw from an election generally means the vote is canceled and the union would have to wait at least six months before petitioning again to represent the same group of workers. [...]

In complaints filed last week with the National Labor Relations Board, the CWA accused Apple of violating federal labor law by forcing workers in Atlanta and New York City to attend “captive audience” meetings about unionization. Existing precedent allows companies to hold such meetings, but the labor board’s current general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, views them as inherently coercive and illegal. And she’s pursuing cases that could change the precedent.

I’d like to hear details about these “captive audience” meetings, but no such details seem to be available.

Friday, 27 May 2022