Union alleges Apple used ‘illegal’ tactics at NYC store

The Communications Workers of America union alleged in a Wednesday filing with the National Labor Relations Board that Apple “violated the law” by interrogating staff, restricting the posting of union fliers, and requiring employees to attend mandatory anti-union speeches.

The new WTC Apple Store is located within the $4 billion Oculus structure designed by Santiago Calatrava. (source: Port Authority of New York & New Jersey)
The WTC Apple Store is located within the $4 billion Oculus structure designed by Santiago Calatrava. (source: Port Authority of New York & New Jersey)

Josh Eidelson for Bloomberg News:

The alleged conduct took place at Apple’s World Trade Center store in New York City, a CWA representative said.

CWA’s deputy organizing director, Tim Dubnau, declined to say whether the union is seeking to represent the workers at Apple’s World Trade Center store, but said they are among many who have recently contacted the group. “When we learn about Apple violating the law, we try our best to defend workers’ rights,” he said. “It’s time for them to just back off and allow workers to choose for themselves whether or not they want a union.”

While the NLRB has previously held that companies can require employees to attend anti-union meetings, the agency’s current general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo views such “captive audience” sessions as inherently coercive and illegal, and her office is pursuing cases that could change that precedent.

MacDailyNews Take: So, a bit of rudimentary parsing of a slanted, biased, and/or just inept press is in order here: Apple activities are not really against the law at all. The NLRB’s current general counsel’s wishes don’t amount to a bucket of warm spit.

If Abruzzo wants to attempt to change the precedent in the future, it will not apply to what Apple’s done, is doing, and will continue to do to educate staff members of the ramifications of unionizing until or unless such law is established.

Once again: If talking sense doesn’t work, Apple should consider more drastic measures.

An employer is free to simply close its operations at any time, even when facing unionization efforts. Apple could then develop and open new retail stores in the same cities with new staff.

The company closed every store in an entire country (Russia) and still posted all-time quarterly results; it could easily absorb this handful of store closures with subsequent relocations/restaffing to drive home the point that:

In a free market, jobs are valued by supply and demand.

The skillset for a retail employee is different than that for, say, a software engineer. Potential retail employees are an order of magnitude more plentiful than software engineers and the wages paid and benefits granted for each job reflect that discrepancy.

You’re not going to get rich working in retail. There are simply too many other people capable of doing your job.

Nobody likes to hear that their job is a dime a dozen. Regardless, retail jobs are a dime a dozen.

If retail workers unionize, they can, and do, force abnormal wages and benefits that do not reflect the reality of supply and demand for such positions.

What happens next (besides backroom graft and corruption between union bosses and politicians)?

The corporation is forced to overpay unionized staff to do tasks that, in a free and unfettered market, should cost the company far less. Therefore, to maintain margins and profitability (in order to satisfy the company’s shareholders and the market), the company is forced to either cut back in other areas or raise prices for goods and services. The company cannot “absorb the cost” longer term.

Talk about inflation.

That said, yes, executive compensation is out of whack. Tim Cook is vastly overpaid for what he does. This is because he holds a rare skillset and it benefits the shareholders to have continuity in the CEO position. Basically, Apple overpays Tim Cook in order to have a long-term CEO which provides confidence to the market. A succession of different CEOs jumping from company to company every other year seeking higher salaries would be a negative and justifies Cook’s overpayment. Cook is paid to stay more than for what he actually does. This is why he has vesting targets set years into the future. If he stays, providing continuity, he benefits and so does the company’s stock price (over time).

Not so for retail employees. If one leaves, there’s an endless line of others to replace them. Sure, there are excellent retail employees and, if Apple’s retail arm is functioning properly, they are being identified and rewarded in order to keep them, as their continued employment benefits the company, the company’s customers, and the company’s shareholders. But the cost of their employment must make financial sense, regardless of how good an employee is – if it costs more to keep them than they are worth to the company, they should seek employment elsewhere, not force overpayment / continued employment.

If Apple is not functioning properly, unionization is the last resort of employees. Just know that those costs will eventually be passed to the customer. Someone has to pay. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If those unionization costs are too high (which they tend to become over time), it will hurt the company (consumers will look for similar goods and services offered at significantly lower prices) and the retail workers will eventually feel negative effects from that (see: unions and Detroit’s automotive industry, what’s left of it).

Back in the day, unions corrected many wrongs: unsafe working conditions, forced overtime without pay, child labor, etc. None of these situations are faced by Apple Retail employees today. Some retail staffers simply want higher pay than the actual value of their work in a free market, so they want to band together to force it.

In many union settings, workers face limited advancement based on their merits. Union workers’ avenues for advancement are limited as stipulated by union contracts. So, if you are an exemplary Apple employee today, your prospects are likely brighter than if you were part of a union, subject to certain union rules governing advancement, etc. Retail employees should carefully consider the pitfalls of unionization and the consequences of unintended consequences.

Apple should do all it can, within reason, to satisfy and compensate retail employees. In fact, Apple appears to be doing so. Just this February, Bloomberg News reported that Apple will significantly increase wages and benefits for American retail workers amid a tightening labor market.

Apple adopted the following changes for U.S. retail workers beginning on April 4th:

• Raises ranging from 2% to 10% depending on store location and role, for salespeople, Genius Bar technical support staff, and some senior hourly workers.

• Doubling paid sick days for both full-time and part-time workers. The days can be used for mental health leave and taking family members to the doctor. This change will give full-time workers 12 paid sick days, instead of six.

• Workers receive more annual vacation days, beginning at three years of employment instead of five.

• Part-time employees will now get as many as six paid vacation days for the first time. Another first: They’ll get paid parental leave. That benefit will cover up to six weeks and will include the ability to gradually ramp up work time for the first four weeks back.

• Part-time workers also will get access to discounted emergency backup care for children or elderly family members.

In a statement to Bloomberg News, an Apple spokesperson reiterated, “We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full time and part time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits.”

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13 Comments

  1. The union bosses are getting worried quickly. They’re already stooping to falsely accusing Apple of violating laws that only they and their owned bureaucrats imagine.

  2. The problem is: Retail workers aren’t the smartest bulbs in the pack (or they wouldn’t be retail workers). No offense, but I wouldn’t put it past them to vote against their own interests because “it sounds good.” You know, like Biden voters.

      1. Yes, record employment, all-time record black employment, low inflation, energy independence (for the first time in 75 years!), affordable gas, no new wars, sound trade deals, peace breaking out in the middle east…

        Who wanted that?!

        1. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter. Giving up our Constitutional Democratic Republic isn’t worth it.

          Trump is a traitor on so many levels. The Republican Party is treasonous as well with their voter disenfranchisement and being Trump enablers.

          1. You people make the grandiose statements like “giving up our constitutional democratic republic” but offer no real evidence of how in the hell Trump would have or could have done such a thing. Haven’t you figured out that most of America isn’t buying y’alls worn out rhetoric?
            Trump was a president. In power for 4 years. He wasn’t a king and didn’t have absolute power. His time came and it went. No different than any other president of 4 or 8 years. He was no risk to anything, except exposing the deep state and liberal biased. But, that’s really what you’re afraid of, isn’t it.
            Would you like to discuss the absolute failure of the man in office today?

            1. That you know words like grandiose and yet have the audacity to ask such a stupid question can only mean that nothing would ever convince you.

              It also shows that you’re likely the type that only cares about money. Perhaps a wall street type.

    1. Wow. I’ve heard of self-important judgmental pricks like you before, but seeing one in the wild is still a shock. Ugly as fuk for sure, but still surprising, surprising as seeing an adult taking a dump in the metro kind of a way. Your mother must be so proud.

  3. “You’re not going to get rich working in retail” — well, in the ‘Leave It To Beaver’ time, a job at retail was enough to earn a living, i.e., afford a place to live in and support a family, without having to get another job. Why? Because of unions fighting for worker’s rights and gaining those privileges. Because not everyone has the skillset to be an entrepreneur, programmer, investment banker, professional sports person, etc. and thus earns enough. Unfortunately, in our age, union busting, corporate greed, the giving up of corporate responsibility & a sense of community, plus other measures have weakened the average person’s bargaining power.

    1. Trying to compare today to 50-60 years ago doesn’t work anymore for a host of reasons.. Once upon a time, Unions actually did good things for workers, not anymore and not for a long time..

      All Unions are are political organizations whose dues fund democrats, and cause unreasonable wages and benefits. Which in turns causes everything to cost more..

      So you appear to be a democrat based on the name you posted as… And what has being a democrat gotten the country, let me see, highest inflation in 40 years, highest gas prices ever, Open borders, massive illegal immigration, massive voter fraud, Dead service men and Woman from the worst military pullout in Afghanistan, not to mention the 85 Billion with a “B” equipment left behind, not to mention thousands of others that could not get out.. This list could be longer,… but I’ll stop…

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