The Communications Workers of America is alleging that Apple fired multiple workers as a result of their unionization efforts despite the company saying they laid off thee workers for attendance reasons.
Just earlier this month, Apple announced that they would be making schedule changes for their employees as a result of them unionizing. Now, Apple is facing charges filed by The Communications Workers of America for allegedly firing employees for unionizing. They were filed on behalf of retail workers in Kansas City and Houston.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) represents people working in fields like technology and broadcasting. The CWA filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board. They are accusing Apple of firing five workers at the Kansas City location for their union efforts.
The United States National Labor Relations Board is a federal agency created from these issues that define its goal to protect employee rights. Specifically, it protects the rights of private sector employees to band together, whether in a union or not, against businesses that could exploit vulnerable workers. Many times workers will band together to boost their wages and advocate for better working conditions like Apple employees.
Unions have long been an important part of the American workforce, providing workers with a collective voice and bargaining power. The aim of the union is to secure better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Resultantly, companies adopt anti-union tactics to prevent workers from organizing and bargaining collectively.
There are a variety of tactics, from subtle intimidation to outright threats, that companies will utilize against employees from joining unions. Employers may threaten to demote or transfer employees who support unionization. In some cases, employers have even fired union supporters or create a hostile work environment to dissuade others from joining.
According to AppleInsider, Apple blamed tardiness and incorrectly filling out attendance papers as the reason for firing their employees. However, Gemma Wyatt, one of the fired employees, told The Washington Post that she was put on disciplinary notice for being late for her shift by about one minute, three times a month. Despite already having disciplinary action taken for tardiness, Gema was still fired.
Unlawfully firing employees is a tactic that companies have been using more recently. Earlier this month, the NLRB indicted Starbucks for the same practice. Now, Bloomberg reports that Apple is under scrutiny from the NLRB for violating the National Labors Relations Act.
The erosion of labor laws has made it easier for companies to undermine workers’ rights and silence their voices. Anti-union tactics can undermine the principles of free speech and free association that are essential to a democratic society. Eric Brown told AppleInsider in 2022 that after repeated attempts to speak with management about better conditions, it felt like he was “writing a letter to Santa”.
According to AppleInsider, the CWA claims that staff was interrogated about their support for unions at the Houston Memorial City Store. They were allegedly promised improvements to their working conditions if they were to stop all union efforts and support. The CWA says one employee was disciplined after verbalizing that they did support unionization.
It seems lately that more companies are attempting to shut down employees from banding together to advocate for better conditions. Apple’s recent retaliation against pro-union employees is undermining workers’ rights. Apple has not commented on the alleged anti-union tactics such as illegal firing, discipline for supporting unionization, and the creation of a hostile work environment.