In America, over the last few decades union participation among workers had actually declined significantly. But recently, there’s been a resurgence as the average worker feels more squeezed due to high inflation and the economic downturn which followed after a historic pandemic.
In another win for unionization supporters, employees at the Apple Penn Square store in Oklahoma City voted successfully this week to exercise their rights to join a union. Just in June, this year, the first Apple Store in Towson, Maryland, also voted to unionize.
Apple Penn Square employees voted 56 to 32 in support of joining the Communications Workers of America Union (CWA). In the US, unions are regulated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and according to its charter, a union can only be certified if it has majority support. At this point Apple Penn Square employees are easily crossing the halfway mark, and around 94 of them are eligible to join CWA.
How is Apple Responding?
Well, the Cupertino giant is certainly very unhappy with these developments, and more so when this has a chance of spilling over to their other retail locations. So far, they haven’t fired anyone for unionizing, but Apple’s management has strongly dissuaded employees from joining a union, and even held anti-union meetings.
Although, the unionized locations haven’t been let off so easy, as the company is withholding its latest employee benefits from the Towson store, which was the first unionized Apple store. The Cupertino giant is likely going to follow the same playbook for other unionized locations too, as they need to separately negotiate their benefits with the company via the collective bargaining arrangement.
The new benefits include:
- Apple prepaying some tuition for outside education. The company has long reimbursed employees for a portion of education costs, but the iPhone maker will now pay the amount in advance. This will start at a small amount of colleges, though the list is expected to expand over time.
- A program with Coursera Inc. beginning on Jan. 1 that gives Apple employees a free membership. Coursera is an online-course provider that normally charges $399 per year for its premium subscription.
- In certain states, including Connecticut, New York, Georgia, Washington and New Jersey, employees will get access to a new health care plan that waives co-pays for some Apple-approved doctors within the UnitedHealth Group Inc. network.
– Mark Gurman, Bloomberg.