Apple store employees are the new face of US labor law reform
The percentage of US workers represented by a union has been declining for decades, to 10% last year. But unions have recently won a victory in the technology sector, attracting retail staff at Apple, warehouse worker at Amazon, video game tester at Microsoft, And programmer in corporate office In places like Google. The group of workers who are not satisfied with how sensitive issues are handled by technology companies include sex ring And military contract has promoted the organization in recent years.
Tech companies have turned to the classics of more traditional consortium industries to fight back. A regional office for the National Labor Relations Board said in December that it was pursuing a lawsuit over allegations that Apple unfairly interfered with consolidation at an Atlanta store. through detainee meetings, staff interrogation, and other coercive tactics. A hearing is scheduled for April. The staffers finally withdrew their plans to vote in Atlanta last year.
The NLRB has previously said that employer-led discussions about union restrictions do not violate workers’ rights to choose what to listen to. But the board recently changed its stance following a wave of nominations by the Biden administration, including General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, the agency’s top official, who wrote a memo last April called the detention sessions illegal.
The PRO Act is an attempt to put more union-friendly policies into law to prevent future administrations or the NLRB from reversing Biden-era rulings. In addition to addressing fixed audience meetings, the law will establish a new standard for identifying independent contractors, which could affect many tech companies; require all members to pay union fees; and allow new forms of strikes. It would also hold executives accountable for violations of workers’ rights and allow workers to sue employers if the NLRB fails to prosecute their case. The other provisions are generally intended to limit the power of the employer to influence the outcome of the organization.
Civick says that before considering forming a union, she and her colleagues repeatedly expressed concerns to regulators but failed to win much change. Their demands include greater pay increases for long-time employees and pay increases for workers with multilingual skills that prove valuable to clients.
Most urgently, they asked Apple to remove the back room of their store – where repairs, lunch breaks and inventory were stored – from its terrible stench. Civick says the area has been flooded with sewage several times over the years, and she has personally helped clean up the mess a few times. Shopping mall operator Simon Property Group did not respond to a request for comment.
The Oklahoma City store is the second Apple location to merge, following one in Townson, Maryland, represented by the International Association of Aerospace and Machine Workers. Several other stores — including in Des Moines, Iowa, and New York City — have discussed merging, according to the labor group Communications Workers of America that supports workers in those areas. Motivation, “Honestly, it’s just getting started,” says Civick. (Disclosure: The WIRED Alliance, of which I am a member, is a unit of New York’s NewsGuild, whose parent organization is CWA.)
The PRO Act requires mediation and arbitration to help resolve contract disputes, but it may not resolve all issues for Civick and other workers. The Oklahoma City union is still waiting for Apple to arrange negotiations to secure their first contract. Companies sometimes hope that stalling will weaken support for a newly formed union or cause it to be dissolved altogether. Civick says that won’t happen at her store. “We’re still completely overworked and understaffed, and Apple hasn’t done much to improve either condition.”