The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found that Apple’s anti-union tactics in Atlanta such as holding captive meetings were “coercive and illegal” and its Atlanta regional director would issue a complaint if the tech giant does not settle.
This year, Apple faced a strong wave of unionization efforts at multiple stores in the United States. In June, retail staff at the Apple Store in Towson, Maryland became the first unionized location in the country, and in October, employees at the Penn Square Store in Oklahoma City unionized.
Although locations in New York, Missouri, and Virginia also showed intent to vote for a union, they withdrew petitions for a union vote. It was alleged that the company’s anti-union efforts dissuaded the employees to take that step.
To counter the organization’s efforts, Apple has been using various tactics to discourage employees from voting in favor of a union like holding one-on-one meetings with store employees, providing talking points to store leaders, and a senior executive of retail visited stores to listen and withhold benefits.
In May 2018, the IAM organization representing the staff at the Cumberland Mall store in Atlanta filed a complaint against the tech giant at the NLRB for violating the National Labor Relations Act by hosting captive audience meetings to discourage employees from voting in favor of a union.
Apple’s captive audience meetings violated federal rules NLRB
According to Bloomberg, NLRB’s investigation concluded that Apple “violated federal law by interrogating and coercing employees in Atlanta”. The agency’s press secretary, Kaylo Blado said:
“The National Labor Relations Board’s Atlanta regional director also concluded that Apple held mandatory anti- union meetings during which management made coercive statements and will issue a complaint if the company doesn’t settle.”
This ruling by the US labor board prosecutors reflects the current general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo policy on companies holding anti-union meetings which were permissible.
While the NLRB has previously held that companies can require employees to attend anti-union meetings, the agency’s current general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo,
views such “captive audience” gatherings as inherently coercive and illegal. Her office is pursuing cases that could change the precedent, including at Amazon.com Inc. and Starbucks Corp., both of which have denied wrongdoing.
The report also mentions that the agency can require companies to reverse policies but has no authority to impose punitive damages on them.
In October, NLRB filed a complaint against Apple for “discriminating and illegally interrogating” pro-union employees at the New York City store.