Organizers of Apple’s Towson Town Center Maryland store claim the company isn’t telling the whole truth when it comes to withholding benefits from employees at the location. As the company’s first retail location in the US tries to unionize, pushes for contract negotiations, employees say it makes it difficult for them to negotiate their benefits.
In a letter addressed to Tim Cook, the negotiating committee says they are disappointed to learn that the company will not offer employees at the location new health and education benefits that will be rolled out to other store employees. The union also says Apple has been spreading “misinformation” by saying that employees would have to negotiate to include those benefits in their contracts.
“Apple management has not yet given our union details about the new benefits”
“There is a critical context missing from this communication around the process of change within a union shop and the fact that we can, and we will include this (and any new benefits) in our collective bargaining agreement proposal,” the letter reads. you can read in full below. However, the union also claims that Apple has made it difficult to negotiate those benefits by not sharing “details” about them.
Apple has not responded to The edge‘s multiple requests for comment on the union’s allegations.
The union, known as IAM CORE (CORE stands for Coalition of Organized Retail Employees, and the organization is partnered with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers), won the union elections in June by a margin of nearly two to one. Since then, workers at other locations say the company has continued to resist union activity, with the Communications Workers of America filing complaints about Apple’s behavior in New York and Oklahoma.
Notably, Apple’s withholding of benefits came days before the Oklahoma store was scheduled to hold its union election, which was a “calculated” move, according to IAM CORE’s letter. If it did, it didn’t work: The workers at the Penn Square store in Oklahoma City voted 56 to 32 for a union.
Yet there are still union actions in Apple stores in New York and Atlanta, where the threat of withheld benefits could affect votes or even delay the process of holding an election altogether. The union involved in the Atlanta campaign canceled the vote in May because Apple had made it impossible to hold fair elections.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg broke the news on Apple’s pressure to withhold benefits from Towson and gave some details about exactly what employees might be missing out on; the list included a free Coursera subscription, prepaid tuition at some colleges (as opposed to the reimbursement model Apple commonly uses), and new health plan options. The publication quoted Benjamin Sachs, a professor at Harvard Law School, as saying that nothing was stopping the company from offering those benefits to union workers.
Wilma Liebman, chair of the National Labor Relations Board, said: Bloomberg that the company’s move to block benefits could be a violation of labor law, saying it was “hard to see how they could come up with a legitimate reason for the timing other than to influence the outcome of the election.” .” According to the NLRB siteemployers must also not “refuse to provide information requested by the union that is relevant to the negotiation process.”
As for the workers in Maryland, they hope the letter will spark a conversation with company and store leaders. IAM’s president, Robert Martinez Jr., promised in a press release that he would “sit with CEO Cook at any time” to support union members at Towson.