Ahead of announcing the results, Apple spokesman Josh Lipton wrote in a statement: “We are fortunate to have fantastic members of our retail team and we take what they bring to Apple very seriously. We are delighted to provide full-time and Part-time employees offer very generous compensation and benefits, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other perks.”
Members wrote an open letter to CEO Tim Cook announcing their union, known as the Organised Retail Workers Union, or Core, and asking him not to launch an anti-union movement. It was ignored. The company retains the union-avoiding firm Littler Mendelson, which is also used by Starbucks. Anti-union rhetoric followed almost daily, some in daily meetings, called “downloads,” and some in one-on-one narrations. Managers take employees outside the store to chat, sometimes hourly, DiMaria said. In late May, Apple sent a video All U.S. stores featuring VP of Retail Deirdre O’Brien. She warned employees that unions “may limit our ability to make broad and immediate changes to improve your experience.”
DiMaria said Apple used scare tactics to try to mislead workers into believing that if the union won, they could lose benefits, that attendance policies would be stricter, and that they wouldn’t be able to meet with managers without unions. He said they appear to be tailoring messages to individual employees, which a worker at the Atlanta store said happened there as well.
Apple did take a different approach from Atlanta when it came to arranging panel meetings to discuss unions. Previously they were required, according to Atlanta store staff. At Towson, although they automatically appear on an employee’s calendar, they are considered voluntary and must actively opt out. The change in strategy came in a memo from Jennifer Abruzzo, general counsel at the National Labor Relations Board, saying those so-called captive audience meetings were illegal. Under the guidance, the union representing the Atlanta store filed an unfair labor practice change with the NLRB.
Members of Atlanta’s suspended union have been in touch with Apple employees at other stores, including Towson, with advice on what they can expect from Apple and how to fight back. “When a manager says something in a public forum, it’s not enough to say it’s not true,” said Atlanta staff member and organizing committee member Derrick Bowles. Workers need to explain further why the statement is also illogical.
Managers have tried to paint Atlanta’s union organizers as aggressors, often throwing out terms like “nervous” and “bullying,” Powers said, which he disputed at the meeting. Other Apple employees running union activities need to have those managers on site, he said. “Like, ‘You said we might lose benefits. Is that a threat? Is that something you’d like to write? You have to put the leadership on the defensive. If you’re on the defensive, you’re going to lose.'”