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Apple, known for its staunch opposition to unionization, has recently come under fire for allegedly firing employees involved in unionization efforts. The New York Times published a report today detailing the accounts of several former Apple Store workers who claim they were terminated due to their involvement in union organizing. This development has drawn comparisons to the actions of other companies, such as Starbucks, that have faced similar allegations in recent years.
One former employee, Gemma Wyatt, asserts that she was specifically targeted and ultimately dismissed from her position at an Apple Store in Kansas City, Missouri, because of her unionization activities. Wyatt claims that she faced disciplinary action last year for occasional tardiness, but her termination came in February of this year after she missed a store meeting due to illness, failing to notify her managers in a timely manner.
According to Wyatt, she was one of at least five employees fired from the Kansas City Apple Store since the previous fall. “It took us time to realize they weren’t firing us just because of time and attendance,” she told The New York Times.
Wyatt and other former employees from the same store filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in March, alleging unfair treatment. In her filing, Wyatt claimed she was disciplined on multiple occasions for arriving a mere one minute late for her shift over the course of a month.
Another former Apple Store employee, D’lite Xiong, based in Kansas, received a warning in October of last year that they would be fired. Xiong went on leave to allow time to appeal the decision but was ultimately terminated upon their return in January. Xiong had recently been promoted and received praise for their performance before suddenly being let go. They suspect that Apple discovered their involvement in union organizing after they attempted to rally their colleagues.
While these firings occurred, two Apple Store locations in Towson, Maryland, and Oklahoma City voted in favor of unionization. In addition to terminations, managers at the Kansas City Apple Store reportedly disciplined multiple employees who supported unionization for issues such as tardiness and absences, infractions that other workers were not typically reprimanded for.
In response to these allegations, Apple denied the claims made by the former employees. The company asserted that it had not disciplined or fired any workers due to their involvement in union activities. Apple stated, “We strongly deny these claims and look forward to providing the full set of facts to the NLRB.”
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As a result of these accusations, Apple has agreed to undergo a third-party audit of its labor practices to ensure compliance with human rights policies. The company made this commitment in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Meanwhile, an NLRB regional director in Atlanta has already concluded that Apple violated the law with its tactics at an Apple Store in that city.
In Towson, Maryland, Apple is currently engaged in active negotiations with union representatives regarding the demands set forth by unionized employees. Recent reports indicate that the employees are seeking customer tips, a 10% raise, and other improvements.
Apple’s position on unionization has been clear, but these recent allegations and the growing scrutiny surrounding them may pose significant challenges to the company’s stance. As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how Apple will address these claims and navigate the ongoing unionization efforts within its stores.