Business news for April 20, 2022 - The New York Times

Business news for April 20, 2022 – The New York Times

attributed to him…Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

Employees at an Apple Store in Atlanta petitioned Wednesday for a union election. If successful, workers could form the first union at an Apple retail store in the United States.

The move continues a recent union trend in the service sector where unions won elections at Starbucks, Amazon and REI locations.

Workers hope to join Communications Workers of America, who represent workers at companies like AT&T Mobility and Verizon and have made a concerted boost in the tech sector in recent years.

The union says about 100 shop workers — in the Cumberland Mall, in northwest Atlanta — are eligible to vote, including salespeople and repair technicians, and that more than 70 percent of them have signed authorization cards indicating their support.

The union said in a statement that Apple, like other tech employers, had effectively created a tiered workforce that denied retail workers the wages, benefits and respect earned by workers in the company’s offices.

Workers said they loved working at Apple but at times felt they were being treated like second-rate employees. “We want to equalize what the company is actually getting,” said Sidney Rhodes, a store employee who is involved in the union campaign.

Ms Rhodes, who has worked at Apple for four years, said she and several of her co-workers hope to continue working for Apple for years to come, but it has often been unclear how they can advance within the company. “Another reason for us to work toward this union is to have a clearer and more concise way to grow, particularly internally,” she added.

An Apple spokesperson said the company offered solid benefits, including health care coverage, tuition reimbursement, paid family leave and a minimum wage rate of $20 per hour for retail workers.

“We are fortunate to have incredible members of the retail team, and we deeply appreciate everything they give Apple,” the spokesperson said, but declined to comment on the union’s efforts. The company has not said whether it will voluntarily recognize the union.

Officials at the National Labor Relations Board will then determine whether there is sufficient interest among workers to hold an election — the official limit is 30 percent — and set the terms for a potential vote. Both the union and the employer will have a chance to influence the details, including the world of which employees are eligible to participate and whether voting should be by mail or in person.

Other unions, notably United Workers, a subsidiary of the Service Employees International Federation of the giant that spearheaded the organizing campaign at Starbucks, are seeking to form Apple’s retail trade unions, of which there are tens of thousands of people in the United States.

Workers at the Apple Store at the Grand Central Terminal in New York City have begun signing authorization cards that may lead to a union vote requesting them to join the United Labor Organization. This was the move I mentioned over the weekend by Washington Post.

Activity and labor regulation have been growing at Apple since last summer, when discontent mounted over the company’s plan to ask employees to return to the office in a broader movement, called #AppleToo. The movement aimed to highlight workplace problems such as harassment, unequal pay, and what workers described as the company’s culture of secrecy.

“Apple workers in all areas of business and around the world are using their voices to demand better treatment,” Janneke Parrish, one of the leaders of #AppleToo, said of the union effort. Ms. Parrish said she was fired by Apple in retaliation for her regulation. “I am so happy to see workers take this big step to stand up for their rights,” she said. Apple has disputed Ms. Parrish’s accusations.

The #AppleToo #movement has included retail workers, who have said throughout the pandemic that Apple hasn’t done enough to keep them safe from the coronavirus.

Complaints from retail workers escalated late last year when the Omicron variant quickly spread across the country and at least 20 Apple stores had to close temporarily as a precaution or because so many of their workers had contracted the virus that stores were no longer operating. On Christmas Eve, dozens of Apple workers quit their jobs to demand better wages and working conditions.

Ms. Rhodes said the effort at her store started in earnest last fall, and that her co-workers have been encouraged by union campaigns at companies like Starbucks and Amazon.

Besides his initiatives at Apple, the telecoms workers’ union has had a presence at Google in recent years, helping workers form a so-called solidarity or minority union that enables them to coordinate actions without holding union elections and obtaining certification from the Labor Council. Corporations are not required to bargain with minority unions, as with formal unions.

The union also recently won a vote to represent about a dozen retail employees at Google Fiber stores in Kansas City, Missouri, who are officially employed by a Google contractor. that it seeking to represent A few dozen quality assurance workers in Wisconsin at video game maker Activision Blizzard, which is acquired by Microsoft, await regulatory approval.

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