Apple workers fear backlash over unionization efforts


Contrary to shareholders’ opinions on the matter, a survey of union-aligned Apple retail workers finds many employees believe the company holds contempt for workers who attempt to unionize.

Jenner & Blocks’ assessment claimed that Apple had instituted adequate policy commitments to meet its responsibilities to human rights. It said that the company “seeks to create a workspace that balances an open and collaborative environment with the need to protect proprietary information.”

Now, IAM Core, the first Apple Union, is refuting the findings of that assessment. It claims that while Jenner & Block did reach out to stakeholders and labor activists, it did not directly reach out to those whose input mattered the most — Apple workers.

IAM Core conducted its own survey, which consisted of 161 Apple workers who mostly worked in Apple retail, with a handful working in call centers and a few who held corporate positions.

About 47% of those polled were full-time workers, while 31% were current part-time workers. Over two-thirds of those surveyed spent at least six years working for Apple.

More than 65% of the workers polled believe that Apple is hostile toward those who wish to unionize, with 47% arguing that they had been personally affected by Apple’s anti-union behavior.

When responding to the prompt “I believe Apple would never retaliate against an employee seeking to form a union,” 38% of respondents disagreed, while nearly 61% strongly disagreed.

“I had a long history with the company, and I loved my job,” one worker told IAM CORE. “[Apple] absolutely succeeded in crushing the will to organize at our store. People are, of course, interested in having a say in their working conditions, but not risking their livelihood.”

More than 86% of respondents suggested that Apple had either attempted to coerce or influence them or their coworkers against forming a union. Nearly 80% of workers polled believed that Apple would potentially intentionally violate the law to prevent unionization efforts.

The rest of the survey reads similarly, with employees believing Apple leadership, including store managers, has been instructed to quash unionization efforts before they begin.

“IAM CORE’s survey findings are deeply troubling and shed light on potential violations of workers’ rights within Apple,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan.

“These allegations of illegal behavior demand immediate attention and accountability from Apple management. IAM CORE Union remains steadfast in our commitment to securing a first contract and advocating for Apple employees’ rights and well-being.”

IAM Core is Apple’s first union, which formed in June 2022. It consists of more than 100 Apple Store employees in Towson, Maryland.

While Apple did not attempt to stop the Towson vote, Apple’s retail chief Deirdre O’Brien pushed back against unionization efforts at some of the company’s brick-and-mortar locations in a video to staff members. She has said that the efforts could slow workplace progress and potentially harm Apple’s and its employees’ relationships.

And despite recognizing the union, Apple has been accused of avoiding negotiations with IAM CORE. In July 2023, IAM CORE filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Apple with the National Labor Relations Board.

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