Apple Holds Meeting With Retail Staff to Discuss Recent Unionization Activities

Apple is doubling down on its efforts to comfort retail employees and dampen any possible resurgence of active unionization in its 270+ stores by downplaying the significance of Apple Towson Town Center as the first store to unionize. According to employees who were present in recent meetings, Apple is making a "grass is not greener on the other side" argument even before the Apple Towson union has gotten organized.

apple store tower theatre
Late last week, Apple retail employees nationwide were invited to an FAQ-style meeting where store management attempted to answer questions on Apple Towson and create an open environment to discuss unions. Apple Towson made history in June by becoming the first Apple store to unionize, and the idea of unionization has since taken hold with many employees seeking improved working conditions.

Several store managers had addressed the topic of the union vote at Apple Towson as it was happening, but for many others, it remained an elephant in the room. Last week during a "Daily Download," the term used for 15- to 30-minute meetings before stores open, Apple leadership appeared "cheery, and weirdly happy to discuss unionization efforts," one Apple Store employee said, asking to remain anonymous. "We were all expecting to get a new manager or hear some groundbreaking news about our store after the Download was hyped up at first. Then it turned out to be about Towson. We were all confused about why they were excited to talk about it."

The talking points last week seem to have been an attempt by top Apple executives to argue that Apple Towson's vote to unionize will do more harm than good in employees' relationships with the company they work for, according to multiple sources who attended the meeting. "They wanted to somehow make it seem as though Apple Towson had failed, even though they've hardly begun. It was a typical scare tactic that failed to work," one employee said.

Leaders told staff that the meeting, which took place in most locations last Thursday, was entirely optional for attendance. Employees were reluctant to miss the meeting, though, as doing so could be perceived as an unwillingness to hear Apple's perspective and, as a result, place targets on their backs.

The FAQ-style meeting was designed to answer questions preselected by Apple, including:

  • What is a union and why does it matter at Apple Towson?
  • Did everyone at Towson get a raise?
  • Can you opt out of a union?

According to employees who attended the meeting, the answers from Apple leadership seemed intended to intimidate employees and downplay the benefits of joining a union, such as emphasizing that employees cannot leave a union once they join, that joining a union does not guarantee better benefits and pay, and that Apple Towson, despite its vote, still received the same pay raises all other retail employees received over the summer.

Store leaders also offered a chance for employees to ask questions, but they were largely unable to give on-the-spot answers. "I don’t have the answer to that, but I’ll get back to you after I find out," was a go-to response for questions asked, including whether Apple is providing any resources to employees who wish to join a union.

apple townson apples website

Apple Towson in Maryland. The first ever ‌Apple Store‌ to form a union.

During the meeting, store leaders also suggested that negotiations between Apple Towson, the union, and Apple leadership had fallen through and had been "unsuccessful." Apple Towson has not, however, formally begun negotiations with Apple and is still in the early stages of training and preparing for talks through the bargaining committee.

In the larger context, the latest union-related talking points come weeks after Apple offered merit-based pay increases to its retail staff. The increases typically happen yearly in the fall, but Apple, in a move widely speculated to have been an attempt to ease employee concerns, moved them up to the summer.

Although the pay raises coincided with ramped-up union momentum, Apple claimed during the meetings with staff that they were purely "coincidental" and that union efforts had in no way impacted Apple's decision to offer the pay raises now rather than in the fall as usual. "None of us believe this is true because we all know the company's hand is being forced. But the fact that a manager said from the get-go that the unionization had zero impact was the most disturbing to me," an Apple employee based in Texas said.

Based on employee conversations with MacRumors, the merit-based increases, irrespective of timing, angered employees more than they satisfied concerns. Some employees who are already on edge about working conditions felt that the 2–3% pay raises in many cases were a "slap in the face to the dedication we've shown during the pandemic," an employee at a store that's in the early stages of collecting signatures to bring a unionization vote told MacRumors.

Talks within stores about unionizing have been relatively stagnant over the last couple of weeks, mainly due to many employees opting for a "wait and see approach" to whether their concerns will be addressed following the pay raises and more open dialogue from store leadership to discuss workplace conditions. Apple leadership across the 272 retail locations made it clear that discussing a union is not a "hush subject," yet many employees continue to feel the nearly $3 trillion Cupertino tech giant is doing everything it can "to be anti-union at every grasp."

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

ct2k7 Avatar
15 weeks ago
Why does the US have such an aversion to unions?
Score: 77 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WiiDSmoker Avatar
15 weeks ago
If unions were so bad, why are all police in a union? Here’s a hint - unions are great and corporations have been trying to stifle and brainwash the masses into thinking otherwise.
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Art Mark Avatar
15 weeks ago

Why does the US have such an aversion to unions?
Not everyone does. But many people are not educated. Like the top post here - 'it'll lead to higher prices!'. of course if employees aren't making a decent living and that's the COST in real terms of cheap crap, that's a system that will fail anyway. How about the company makes a billion less in profits and cares more about employees than shareholders? Oh-oh..that will scare the folks who actually think a 'free market' exists outside of regulation. NO company provides for employees anymore than they are forced to. It is that simple.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vipergts2207 Avatar
15 weeks ago
Hope the employees unionize.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ninecows Avatar
15 weeks ago
I wonder why Apple top executives are so busy telling their employees that unions are bad?

I must assume that unions in the US are very different than here in Europe. Here they have helped us with higher salaries, payed absent if you’re sick, parental leave and many more benefits.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jayducharme Avatar
15 weeks ago

Remember the grass is not always greener on the other side and get ready to start paying those union dues
Unions in concept are a good thing for employees. I mean, who would oppose protecting employees from exploitation by a huge company? In my experience, unions often get a bad reputation because of poor union leadership. I was in a union where the leadership caved in to nearly every demand the employer made. So in that case, the union was pointless. But under different leadership that union stood firm against management attempting to fire an employee who strongly disagreed with management policy. So in that case, the union was a very good thing indeed. Plus, the union guaranteed me health care and retirement benefits, something that few employers are prone to do voluntarily.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

apple store st louis

Apple Store Employees in St. Louis Reject Unionization Efforts

Monday December 5, 2022 3:05 pm PST by
Apple Store employees at the St. Louis Galleria location this week decided not to unionize, rejecting unionization in a filing with the National Labor Relations Board, reports Bloomberg. Employees said that they did not believe the union would provide "anything complementary to Apple's culture and existing benefits," which suggests that Apple's efforts to improve benefits to stymie...
towson maryland apple store

President Biden Praises Apple Employees in Maryland for Unionizing

Monday June 20, 2022 10:07 am PDT by
U.S. President Joe Biden this morning said that he was "proud" of Apple employees in Maryland who voted to unionize over the weekend, reports Reuters. Though other Apple retail locations have been discussing unionization, the Maryland employees are the first Apple retail workers to unionize in the United States. "Workers have a right to determine under what condition they are going to work...
towson maryland apple store

Apple Employees at Unionized Maryland Store Denied Latest Benefits Provided to Non-Union Workers

Wednesday October 12, 2022 11:13 am PDT by
Apple does not plan to provide recently announced employee perks to workers at a Maryland store who have unionized, reports Bloomberg. Apple this week announced plans to offer employees additional funds for education and new health care features in some states, but unionized employees at the Towson, Maryland Apple Store will not receive these benefits. Towson workers were told that the store ...
applestoresantamonica

Apple Store in Maryland Makes History by Voting to Unionize

Saturday June 18, 2022 6:06 pm PDT by
Apple Store employees in Maryland have made history by voting to officially unionize, becoming the first Apple retail location to do so in the U.S. after efforts by Apple to calm down unionization efforts. As reported by CNBC, employees at the Apple Store in Towson, Maryland voted 65 for and 33 against a call to join the Machinists Union. 110 employees were eligible to vote Wednesday through ...
twitter elon musk

Hundreds of Twitter Employees Leaving After Elon Musk's 'Extremely Hardcore' Work Demands

Thursday November 17, 2022 4:42 pm PST by
Hundreds of Twitter employees today resigned from the company rather than opting in to be part of "Twitter 2.0" under Elon Musk, according to The Verge. Musk earlier this week told workers that Twitter will be "extremely hardcore" going forward, with employees expected to put in long hours at high intensity. "Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade," he said. Musk on...
apple store palo alto

Apple Agrees to Improve Working Conditions for Retail Employees Amid Unionization Efforts

Thursday June 2, 2022 3:26 pm PDT by
Apple is planning to make employee schedules at retail locations more flexible in an attempt to improve working conditions, reports Bloomberg. The changes come as employees in some Apple stores have been working toward unionization. Going forward, Apple will make sure that there are at least 12 hours in between each shift an employee must take on, up from the current 10 hour minimum....
Apple Penn Square

Apple Store in Oklahoma City Becomes Second in U.S. to Unionize

Friday October 14, 2022 6:33 pm PDT by
Apple Penn Square employees have voted to unionize, according to Bloomberg's Josh Eidelson. The store, located in Oklahoma City, is the second Apple retail location to form a union in the U.S. following a store in Towson, Maryland earlier this year. The employees reportedly voted 56 to 32 in favor of joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union following an election open to all...
apple store employees los angeles tower

Some Apple Store Employees in U.S. Reportedly Working to Unionize

Friday February 18, 2022 6:06 am PST by
The Washington Post today reports that employees at some Apple retail stores in the U.S. are quietly working to unionize. The report claims that groups of employees working for at least two stores are preparing to file paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board in the near future, and at least a half dozen more locations are said to be in earlier stages of the unionization process....

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Can't Get an iPhone 14 Pro? Here's Why You Should Wait for the iPhone 15 Ultra

Monday December 5, 2022 11:44 am PST by
Due to production issues at Apple supplier factories in China, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are backordered and basically out of stock at every store. If you were planning to gift or receive an iPhone 14 Pro model for the holidays and didn't already get one, you're basically out of luck because they're gone until late December. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Launching This Month With These 8 New Features

Thursday December 1, 2022 8:44 am PST by
Apple plans to publicly release iOS 16.2 for the iPhone in mid-December, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The update remains in beta testing for now, with at least eight new features and changes already uncovered so far. iOS 16.2 introduces a number of new features, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications, the ability to hide...
Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple to Charge Under $100,000 for Apple Car, Launch Planned for 2026

Tuesday December 6, 2022 2:31 pm PST by
Apple is aiming to launch an Apple-branded consumer-oriented vehicle by 2026, and its goal is to hit a price point under $100,000 to make the car appeal to a wider range of customers, reports Bloomberg. Apple initially planned to design a car that might look similar to Canoo's Lifestyle Vehicle, where passengers could face one another in a limousine-style car with no steering wheel or...
iPhone Measure Height

Newer iPhones Allow You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly — Here's How

Saturday December 3, 2022 10:23 am PST by
iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models feature a LiDAR Scanner next to the rear camera that can be used to measure a person's height instantly in Apple's preinstalled Measure app. To measure a person's height, simply open the Measure app, point your iPhone at the person you want to measure, and make sure they are visible on the screen from...
introducing apple music sing

Apple Music Adding a Karaoke Experience With Apple Music Sing

Tuesday December 6, 2022 7:09 am PST by
Apple today announced Apple Music Sing, a new feature in Apple Music that lets users sing their favorite songs with adjustable vocals and more. Apple Music Sing will utilize Apple Music's real-time lyrics to allow users to sing to their favorite songs using adjustable vocals, background vocals, and duet view to allow more than one singer.Apple Music Sing includes: Adjustable vocals: Users...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

Major RAM Upgrade Coming to Next-Generation MacBook Pro

Friday December 2, 2022 2:03 am PST by
The next-generation MacBook Pro models could feature faster RAM, according to a recent report from a reliable source. MacRumors Forums member "Amethyst," who accurately revealed details about the Mac Studio and Studio Display before those products were announced, recently provided information about Apple's upcoming 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The new machines are expected to feature...
nothing phone 2

Nothing Plans to Launch Smartphone in US to Take on Apple's iPhone

Monday December 5, 2022 12:38 am PST by
UK-based tech company Nothing plans to launch a smartphone in the US to directly compete with Apple's iPhone, according to a new report out today. In an interview with CNBC, Nothing CEO Carl Pei said the startup is in "early conversations" with American cellular carriers about launching a new phone in the US, but he stopped short of naming any of the carriers or the phone model. Nothing...
apple ar headset concept 1

Kuo: Apple Headset Shipments Potentially Delayed Until Second Half of 2023

Sunday December 4, 2022 7:38 am PST by
Mass shipments of Apple's long-rumored AR/VR headset may be delayed until the second half of 2023 due to unspecified "software-related issues," according to the latest information shared today by tech analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple headset render by Ian Zelbo Kuo said mass shipments of components for the headset are still likely to begin in the first half of 2023, but he believes that mass...
iOS 16

When Will iOS 16.2 Launch?

Friday December 2, 2022 2:13 pm PST by
Apple in late October began testing iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 updates, providing betas to both developers and public beta testers. As of now, we've had four total betas, with the fourth beta having been released earlier this week. iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 are expected before the end of the year, and we thought we'd try to narrow down the launch timeline. With only four betas released since...