Apple Leaves Union Group Fighting for Workers’ Rights
Apple is reported to have parted ways with a group of union organizers who sought to improve workers’ rights in the company’s US stores. According to a complaint the Communications Workers of America union filed to the National Labor Relations Board, five individuals who supported unionization attempts in a store in Kansas City faced disciplinary action and dismissal. Apple had been actively pushing back against employees’ attempts to unionize itself, particularly in the retail segment. The Washington Post reported that Apple attributed its actions to tardiness, absenteeism from work, and improper completion of attendance forms”. All five coworkers were active union members.
The CWA has made a number of complaints about union-busting tactics by US companies, however, the NLRB lacks the power to issue sanctions. The allegations against Apple are similar to those made against other huge corporations such as Starbucks and Amazon, which have allegedly pursued similar policies. Last year, Starbucks dismissed union organizers due to “attendance issues,” such as arriving a few minutes late. The dismissed organizers responded by saying that they were fired for “violations of company policy” and not for their union activities.
Gemma Wyatt was one of those who lost her job after having worked for Apple for seven years. She initially began union work in spring last year and was given a warning for being tardy three times in a single month, after which she was dismissed in February due to problems with attendance. Although colleagues were keen on improving their conditions, Wyatt felt that “they don’t want to lose their livelihood,” highlighting the challenging trade-offs for workers trying to organize.