Apple retail store union vote is just the start; lengthy process may not end in unionization

Apple employees at a Towson Town Center retail store have voted to unionize, making it the first of the company’s 270-plus stores in the United States to join a union. This vote is just the beginning of a lengthy process that may not end in unionization.

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Associated Press:

The question is, what happens now?

Once the vote is certified, the union and Apple can begin negotiating a contract.

“Labor law in the United States is a is a long process. And so the fact that a single store negotiates or elects a union doesn’t mean that there’s a negotiated contract in the workplace. And we know in recent history that in many of these situations, parties are unable to come to terms on an initial contract,” Michael Duff, a former NRLB lawyer and professor at University of Wyoming College of Law, said Sunday. “The employer in the United States has an awful lot of rights to simply withdraw recognition at the end of the process. The employer can prove that it no longer supports a majority of the employees in the bargaining unit.”

Even after a union is certified, a company has a number of legal maneuvers at its disposal to fight it, Duff said. For instance, Apple could say it doesn’t believe that the bargaining unit that was certified by the NLRB is an appropriate bargaining unit. and refuse to bargain with the union. “If that happens, the whole thing goes to the courts and it could easily be a year or two before you even get the question of whether the employer is required to bargain with the union,” Duff added.

Labor experts say it’s common for employers to drag out the bargaining process in an effort to take the momentum out of union campaigns. It’s also possible that Apple — or any other company — restructures its business so the unionized workers are reclassified as independent contractors and not employees, in which case the union vote is moot, Duff said.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, Apple retail workers are already, and have long been, among the highest paid retail workers around the world. If ultimately bound under a union contract, and the smart employees should hope that never happens, it will get more difficult to work at an Apple retail store, not easier.

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. — MacDailyNews, May 25, 2022

See also:
• Apple to improve scheduling flexibility for retail workers – June 2, 2022
Apple boosts starting pay for U.S. retail workers to $22 per hour – May 26, 2022
Apple retail chief O’Brien pushes back against unions in new video to retail staff – May 25, 2022

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  1. Apple could fire 3/4s of its lazy do nothing workforce and increase productivity. If Jobs were around he would fire all these bozos. Apple should fire all of them. Unions are cysts of communists.

      1. Guessing @Zombie does not work at Apple and has zero control over Apple and it’s employees.

        So, yes, talk about Apple BS, par for the course, you make ZERO SENSE.

        I wholeheartedly agree culling time for overpaid snowflake egos at jobs anyone can do, no degree required.

        Fire the majority of disrupters grasping at a long ago quaint practice when unions were actually useful…

  2. People used to have to work on weekends and more than 8 hours a day. Some didn’t even have lunch breaks nor would they get paid during work-related injuries. All these changed thanks to unions. So it’s kinda nuts to want to go back to Dickensian work/slavery just to up profits and allow the 1% to be able to buy 50 private planes and super yachts instead of just 10.

    1. This isn’t 1922. There are plenty of labor laws today. More than enough, in fact.

      SMART people are opposed to unions.

      The only thing Apple employees at this unfortunate store near the Baltimore shithole will get is LESS pay, siphoned off “union dues,” LESS chance of advancement, and MORE mediocre employees who can’t easily be dismissed because they SUCK.

      Apple should immediately recategorize staff at this store as contractors, quashing unionization with finality, sending a message to the stupid employees at all other Apple retail stores.

      The Towson retail store will quickly become Apple’s absolute worst store if it ever gets to the point where a union contract is agreed upon (don’t bet on it.)

      1. Have you heard of the saying “work was made for man, not man for work”? When you and your millionaire boss are at your death bed, will you look back at your life and be proud and satisfied-with-a-well-lived-life that you were able to pay your employees one dollar less, and was able to not give them any paid vacations and other benefits? or will you be cheerful in leaving the world a better place for as many people you could affect. I don’t know with you, but if your life consisted of the former, you should watch the movie, “All The Money In The World” and see what happens at the end of the life of the super richest man ever, J. Paul Getty (who brought Saudi oil to the world and invented the supertanker).

  3. To the person constantly chaning votes via your VPN on here. We all know you do it. And that’s exactly what you leftists did in the election cheat. And to the VPN voter, you know what you do. Just like the rest of you losers, know, deep in your heart, that is what you have to resort to. Because no one wants your loser ideas, you can only do it by cheating or by force. That is what you are. Deep in your soul. Fascists.

  4. All one needs to assess the union debate is the excellent take by MDN, simply says it all.

    My personal opinion is overpaid self righteous ENTITLED snowflakes, retail workers with no special skills anyone can do without a degree, need to get up to speed with working practices in the 21st Century and REJECT the dinosaur organizations that long outlived their usefulness.

    A thinking person only needs to look at the abuses of the largest teacher’s union corrupting our children, receiving lucrative pay, benefits, yearly raises unlike the majority of American workers and sadly, delivering the lowest test scores of the industrialized G8 nations. Unions are all about MORE FOR ME FIRST, not necessarily translating into making them better employees and union abuses are well known.

    Unions in this day and age are… OBSOLETE…

    1. People have as much right to representation when bargaining as they do to representation from lawyers. And I hate unions AND lawyers. The only thing worse is not having them.

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