Apple Violated NYC Store Workers Union Rights, Judge Rules

Apple has suffered a setback this week, after a judge ruled it had engaged in union busting activities in a New York City store.

In April 2022 it had been reported that staff at Apple’s flagship WTC store in New York were taking the first steps to organise a trade union in concert with several other retail locations in the US where Apple store workers sought union representation.

In a decision issued on Tuesday, National Labor Relations Board judge Lauren Esposito ruled that Apple broke American employment law in an “unprecedented manner” at its World Trade Center store.

The Apple Store at Beverley Centre in Los Angeles. Image credit: Apple

Judge ruling

Furthermore judge Esposito ruled that Apple “coercively interrogated” retail employees about their pro-union sympathies and restricted the circulation of union flyers, Bloomberg reported.

Indeed, Apple managers were reportedly found to have taken away pro-union flyers in the break room and attempted to dissuade employees from joining unions.

As such, judge Esposito ordered Apple to cease and desist from interrogating employees regarding unionisation and other protected activities; and blocked it from removing pro-union flyers from the employee break room.

In addition to this, Apple was ordered to post a notice to employees at the WTC store of the decision and their rights, alongside its pledge not to suppress organising.

Apple has so far not publicly responded to the ruling, but during the case it had argued that it had removed the flyers from the break room because they violated its solicitation policy and its cleanliness standards.

Apple’s WTC store is located across the street from the 9/11 memorial site and new World Trade Center building.

Unionisation efforts

Apple recognises trade unions in France and Sweden, but in 2022 it faced a growing number of unionisation votes in its stores across America.

And as a result, Apple is facing a number of outstanding NLRB cases in the US, with ongoing cases filed against Apple in Atlanta, Oklahoma City, and Cupertino, California.

Currently, the NLRB has only certified unions at two Apple locations in the US: Towson, Maryland (the first Apple store to unionise in June 2022), and Oklahoma City.

Staff at Apple Store in Towson, Maryland following the vote to form a union. Image: IAM

But it has been reported that NLRB regional teams are working through 23 additional unfair labour practice cases filed against Apple.

Apple has until 18 July to appeal the judge Esposito ruling, after which the NLRB will adopt Esposito’s order to Apple.

Meanwhile in the UK, Apple Store staff in Scotland became the first in the United Kingdom to have unionised in November 2022, in a push to secure higher wages.

Staff at the Apple Store located at Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, were unionised after workers voted overwhelmingly to be represented by GMB Scotland.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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