Unionized Workers Call for Apple to Uphold Commitments to Shareholders and Include Organized Workers in Apple's Workers’ Rights Assessment
(Cupertino, CA)—Today, the bargaining committees of Apple’s unionized retail stores sent a letter to Apple Board Member Sue Wagner, calling on the company to include organized workers’ perspectives in its ongoing third-party assessment (or “audit”). As part of an agreement with a coalition of shareholders, Apple committed to performing an assessment of its workers’ rights policies and practices in January 2023. According to a company Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the purpose of the third-party assessment was to evaluate whether or not the company was complying with its official human rights policy as it relates to “workers’ freedom of association and collective bargaining rights in the United States.” However, the omission of the very individuals most directly affected and knowledgeable about Apple’s compliance with this policy—its unionized workers—raises concerns and demands immediate action by Apple.
Despite Apple's stated commitment to undergoing this assessment, the unionized workers at Apple have not been consulted in the auditing process. With less than three months remaining before the audit concludes in December 2023, there is growing worry that the voices and experiences of unionized workers were intentionally omitted. This omission is especially troubling given that shareholders themselves first proposed the assessment in response to Apple’s hostile anti-union campaign.
“Unfortunately unionized workers, who have been impacted the most by Apple’s labor practices, have not been involved in the Apple Workers’ Rights Assessment. There’s a lot of concern regarding the credibility of an audit that does not include the very workers who have been at the forefront of organizing at Apple. Our goal is an open, honest, and productive conversation that promotes a mutually beneficial relationship so that we can work with Apple on delivering exceptional products and services as the world's most admired brand. We call on Apple Board Member Sue Wagner to uphold the company’s commitment to shareholders and center the voices and experiences of organized workers in Apple’s Workers’ Rights Assessment,” said Michael Forsythe, Apple Genius Admin, and member of Apple Retail Union-CWA.
Apple retail workers have been organizing at stores across the country where they have dealt with hostility in forming their union. In response to worker organizing, Apple retained Littler Mendelson, a law firm known to provide “union avoidance” strategies to its clients. In the past year, multiple unfair labor practice (ULP) charges were filed on behalf of the workers alleging both coercive interrogations, daily mandatory anti-union captive audience meetings, and the removal of pro-union literature in non-work areas. An Administrative Law Judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found merit in several previously filed charges and workers await determinations on others.
Despite Apple’s opposition, two stores successfully unionized in the United States. The first store to unionize was the Towson Town Center store in Towson, MD with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), and the second to unionize was the Penn Square store in Oklahoma City, OK where workers are organized with Communications Workers of America (CWA). Both the Towson, MD store and the Oklahoma City, OK store stores were awarded Ovation Awards by Apple this year. The Ovation Awards that both stores earned demonstrates that unionizing can be beneficial for employee morale and customer care. Unfortunately, Apple remains hostile. Both IAM and CWA filed ULP charges against Apple for its refusal to engage in good faith bargaining efforts with workers at both unionized stores.
“For Apple’s Workers’ Rights Assessment to be viable, transparent, and balanced, the voices of unionized workers must be included. We are not only intimately familiar with Apple’s human rights policy, we have lived its practices and execution and thus we feel there are no other voices better equipped to provide insight into Apple’s compliance than our own. We are asking Apple to do the right thing and facilitate our inclusion into this audit process,” said Eric Brown, Apple Lead, and member of IAM CORE.
Workers organized with CWA and IAM are calling on Apple to include them in the third-party assessment so that they can share their experiences and offer feedback on how Apple can better uphold its own policies. They aim to ensure that the labor practices assessment is a fair representation of all workers’ experiences and a step towards ensuring Apple upholds its own human rights and labor policies.
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.
IAM Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (IAM CORE), a division of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), represents approximately 100 employees at Apple’s retail store in Towson, MD.