Apple union push faces setback as Atlanta organizers withdraw bid for vote, citing alleged intimidation and rising covid cases

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  • The union that organizes Atlanta Apple Store employees has withdrawn its request for election.
  • Voting was earlier scheduled for next week. If successful, it would have been the first unionized US Apple Store.
  • The union alleges that Apple violated labor laws and made fair elections impossible. It also cited cases of Covid among employees that could have prevented workers from voting safely.

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A union vote at an Apple Store at the Cumberland Mall location in Atlanta is in question after the union tried to mobilize retail workers and withdrew its request for an election.

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The Communications Workers Union of America alleged in a statement that Apple violated labor laws and made fair elections impossible. In addition, the CWA said that the number of COVID cases at the store is increasing, which may prevent workers from voting safely.

The vote was previously scheduled for next week and, if successful, would be the first unionized US Apple Store.

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The development comes as a blow to Apple employees’ efforts to unionize at the company’s retail stores in the US. A store in Maryland will vote on whether to unionize on June 15.

“The overwhelming majority of workers at the Cumberland Mall store announced they were forming a union in April and requested accreditation from the company. Apple has since intimidated them and interfered with their right to unionize with a systematic, sophisticated campaign,” a CWA representative said in a statement. “This behavior violates US law, Apple’s Principles and Vendor Code of Conduct, and international human rights standards.”

“We are not going ahead with the election given Apple’s response and the overwhelming environment they have created,” the Cumberland Mall organizing committee said. tweeted,

Atlanta store workers filed for a union drive in April, after organizers said more than 70% of store employees signed cards, showing interest in engaging with the CWA.

Since then, Apple has faced allegations of implementing anti-union tactics that broke labor laws. CWA said An unfair labor practice filing earlier this month said store managers held “captive audience meetings” where workers are required to participate in meetings that include anti-corporate union talk.

Earlier this week, Apple’s head of retail and HR said in part of a video distributed internally that he believed unions would make it harder for Apple managers to respond to employee concerns, and That unions are not committed to their employees.

Cumberland Mall organizers are calling for greater transparency in how they are paid, a commitment to diversity in management and increased COVID safety measures for employees.

An Apple representative did not respond to a request for comment. The company has previously said that it offers strong compensation and benefits for full-time and part-time employees. Earlier this week, Apple announced that it was raising the starting salary for retail employees to $22 an hour.

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