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(Columbus, Ohio) — Today, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed an unfair labor practice charge against Apple for multiple federal labor law violations. The charge alleges that the company held mandatory “captive audience” meetings at its Columbus retail location during which a store leader asserted that workers cannot successfully bargain over operational issues and threatened to take away employees' ability to have personal, one-on-one conversations with their manager.
The charge also asserts that management violated workers’ rights by creating an employer dominated labor organization. The organization, called “Employee Forum,” is described in a flier distributed to workers in Columbus as “a dedicated working group that can be used as a formal means for employees and leaders to provide feedback on both local and retail organization-wide initiatives, policies and practices.” It would consist of 10 members with specific roles such as co-chair or secretary.
Over the course of the year, Apple has opposed workers organizing for better pay and working conditions by launching a national anti-union campaign to prevent employees from exercising their right to stand together. Rather than engage in good faith with either of the two democratically certified unions formed by employees, management has chosen to create a company controlled union to coax workers away from organizing independently. Clearly these practices are inconsistent with Apple's publicly stated commitments to workers rights and freedom of association.
“Make no mistake, a company controlled labor organization is not a substitute for an independent union. Establishing an employee committee to address grievances and working conditions with representatives hand picked by management is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act,” said Sara Steffens, CWA Secretary-Treasurer. “Creating a work group controlled by management is undemocratic and a clear attempt at union-busting. If management actually cared about workers having a voice on the job, they would direct them to Apple Retail Union/CWA, which is run by workers, not bosses.”
Last month, in response to a charge filed by CWA, the National Labor Relations Board ordered T-Mobile to disband T-Voice, an illegal workplace organization similar to Apple’s Employee Forum, which was established to undermine worker organizing at the company.
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board found merit behind allegations that the Apple store at Cumberland Mall in Atlanta held mandatory anti-union meetings, interrogated workers, solicited grievances, and told workers that union membership would result in less favorable terms of employment. In October, the board issued a complaint against Apple for illegally interrogating and discriminating against pro-union employees at its World Trade Center flagship store.
The Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA) is an initiative by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) supporting workers’ organizing efforts in the technology and game industries.