NLRB Issues Complaint Against Apple

The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against Apple over accusations that it interrogated its retail workers about their union support and prevented pro-labor fliers in a store break room.

The Communications Workers of America told the N.L.R.B. in May that Apple had violated several labor laws in an attempt to stymie labor organizers at its World Trade Center store in New York. The union accused Apple of interrogating and surveilling staff, requiring workers to attend anti-union speeches and restricting placement of union fliers.

The agency found merit in two of those claims.

Sara Steffens, the secretary-treasurer for the Communications Workers of America, praised the N.L.R.B. on Tuesday for holding Apple accountable. “Apple has a choice,” she said in a statement. “Does it want to be known for intimidating its workers and creating a culture of fear, or does it want to live up to its stated values and welcome true collaboration with all of its employees?”

An Apple spokesman said the company disagreed with the union’s claims and looked “forward to presenting the facts.” He added that the company valued the work of its retail staff.

An N.L.R.B. judge will hold a hearing about the matter on Dec. 13, unless the parties settle, an agency spokeswoman said.

The accusations against Apple have been at the heart of a dispute between the union and the company over tactics that Apple deployed last spring at three stores in New York, Atlanta and Towson, Md., that began to organize. The company equipped store managers with talking points that emphasized that joining a union could result in fewer promotions and inflexible hours. It also said it would increase wages to $22 an hour from $20.

In the face of Apple’s efforts, union drives stalled at the World Trade Center store and the Cumberland Mall store in Atlanta. Employees at the World Trade Center have yet to hold an election, and those at the Atlanta store abandoned their planned election.

In May, the Communications Workers of America also filed a charge that employees in Atlanta were required to listen to anti-union propaganda during mandatory meetings. The N.L.R.B. has not yet weighed in on that charge.

In June, employees at the Towson store became the first to unionize at Apple, with two-thirds voting to join the union. Apple employees in Oklahoma City will vote next week on whether their store will become the second.

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