Apple recently announced new education and health perks for employees. However, the company informed the employees at its sole union store in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland that the latest benefits will not be applicable to them and that they need to negotiate benefits through the collective bargaining arrangement that comes with a union.
In June this year, retail staff at Apple Store in Towson, Maryland voted in favor of a union and became the first unionized location in the U.S.
Prior to the election, the Cupertino tech giant shared talking points with store managers to inform the employees of the possible consequences of unionization like fewer career opportunities, less attention to merit, and others. Now, staying true to its word, the company has announced the exclusion of union members from the latest benefits right before another store is scheduled to vote.
Apple timed the new benefits to dissuade others from opting for a union
According to Bloomberg, Apple told retail and corporate employees that it would increase benefits for outside educational classes and health care. Employees would also get more funds to pursue coursework, and in some states, they would be able to access new health plan benefits.
- Starting with a few colleges, Apple will pay some tuition for outside education in advance, previously, the company reimbursed the costs. The list of colleges will expand over time.
- Free membership for a program with Coursera Inc. beginning on Jan. 1 which costs $399 per year.
- A new healthcare plan waives co-pays for some company-approved doctors in the UnitedHealth Group Inc. network. in Connecticut, New York, Georgia, Washington, and New Jersey.
Although the company has been introducing new incentives for employees over the past several months, the timing of the latest perks has given rise to the suspicion that they were announced to dissuade employees in other cities from unionizing.
This week, the retail staff at an Apple store in Oklahoma City is going to vote on whether to join the Communications Workers of America or not. Harvard Law School professor Benjamin Sachs said that the company’s decision to not include the unionized store in the new benefits sends a message to other stores. There is no law that stops it from offering benefits across the company.
While it is true that the law restricts companies from making unilateral changes at unionized shops, nothing prohibits management from offering to give union workers the same new perks that other staff are getting.
They can’t impose the increases, but they can offer them to the union.
If you give benefit increases to nonunion workers and withhold them from union workers, you’re sending a message of favoritism and discrimination,” he said. “You’re trying to discourage workers from forming unions.”