Apple illegally interrogated and made coercive statements to employees during a union drive at one of its retail stores in Atlanta, Georgia, according to a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board reported on by Bloomberg. The company was being investigated as the result of charges filed by the Communications Workers of America, which has previously claimed that the company’s actions “made a free and fair election impossible” at the location.
The NLRB’s regional director “found merit” to the allegations as well as ones that Apple held captive-audience meetings, according to Kayla Blado, a spokesperson for the regulator. Apple will either have to settle the case or face the NLRB filing a complaint against it. The regulator can’t levy financial penalties, but either path could result in Apple being forced to put up signage at the location and issue other communications that inform workers of their legal rights.
The Atlanta store was the first US location to file for a union election in April 2022. 70 percent of the workers there signed union authorization cards. Less than a week before the vote was scheduled to take place, however, the CWA announced it was withdrawing its request to hold an election. The union claimed it made the move because Apple’s intimidation made it impossible to have a fair contest and because of concerns surrounding covid.
Apple has been accused of violating labor laws several times. In October, the NLRB filed a complaint against the company, saying that it had discriminated against workers trying to organize and interrogated employees in New York City. That case also stemmed from charges filed by the CWA. Organizers have also alleged that the company was withholding new benefits from unionized workers.
Outside of Atlanta, there’s been movement on unionization at other Apple retail locations. Workers in Maryland and Oklahoma have voted to organize with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the CWA, respectively, while other campaigns have sprung up and withered. In other locations, efforts are still ongoing.