Retail employees at the Apple Grand Central location are deciding either to vote for or against unionization, a process pushed by a group of Apple’s former and current employees called the “Fruit Stand Workers United”. So after stores in Atlanta and Maryland filed for a union election.
The advocates of unionization argue that as a union they will be able to negotiate a better salary, working conditions, and other benefits for retail employees.
However, Apple is unofficially working to discourage employees from unionizing and the company allegedly shared “talking points” with store leaders to communicate the consequences of voting for unionization.
Will Apple be able to deter retail employees from voting for unionization?
During the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, woes of retail employees surfaced. It was found that they are overworked, underpaid, face discrimination, are left at the mercy of store managers, and face other issues.
To retain workers, the tech offered incentives like offering more paid sick leaves for full and part-time workers, increased vacation days, offered up to $1000 bonuses, and more. But apparently, that was not enough.
Wired claims that former Apple engineers Cher Scarlett and Janneke Parrish are behind the unionization process. Scarlett is also the known organizer of the #AppleToo movement which was founded to hold the company accountable for ignoring its corporate and retail employees. Although the movement lost luster and Scarlett left the company, she is still working to organize against the tech giant.
In the middle of unionization, Verger’s Zoë Schiffer reports that Apple head of retail Deirdre O’Brien visited a unionizing store in Maryland to “listen” and store managers have been posting about the “strong and competitive pay and benefits” the company offers.
However, the post received backlash; some store employees wrote that they are penalized for taking additional sick time. The feedback resonates with complaints of retail employees shared when a retail employee Mark Calivas took his life.
As the unionization process is still at an early stage, it is likely that the company might be able to pressurize workers from voting for it by allegedly threatening to adversely impact their careers. Whatever the outcome, the tech giant needs to pay attention to the demands of its retail employees.