Geek Culture
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Geek Culture

What is Happening at Apple’s Stores?

Laurenz Heymann

There have been quite a few stories about unions this year, from Starbucks to Amazon to Apple. Big corporations are, once again, facing a wave of unionizations at their warehouses, stores and more. Most of them, predictably, are trying to fight back and engaging in union-busting, which usually just gives more power and talking points to the union. While most of the conversation around this has been focused on Amazon, simply due to it being the largest and most prominent company to be embroiled in the union debate. Yet Apple seems to be catching up in that regard, having had a staggeringly bad week when it comes to unions. Let’s do a quick recap.

Two for the Price of One

Apple stores across multiple states have been gearing up to vote on unionization, with two stores having already set election dates. Apple agreed to this, because it kind of has to, but letting the employees set a date isn’t a sign that the company gave up. On the contrary, the tech giant has ramped up its anti-union efforts. Having already enlisted the help of lawyers with an infamous reputation, Apple has moved on to more direct tactics, according to employees from stores in Atlanta and New York. The company is holding “captive audience” meetings where reps talk about the evils of unions, forbids the spread of pro-union leaflets and generally does all it can to either cut the flow of pro-union information or boost the anti-union sentiments in the stores. With two charges filed in the span of a week, both alleging that Apple violated federal laws, it’s hard to say if these tactics are paying off at all. Not only is such a hamfisted approach to things not likely to convince employees to join Apple’s side, it also seems to have created a snowball effect. Instead of just getting a bad reputation as a union buster, Apple is now about to be pulled into legal battles. Considering the scale of things, it might very well lead to the very outcome that the company wanted to prevent. While they’re fighting off lawmakers and dealing with the union head on, the unionizers could snatch a victory and make history, as Apple flails in the past.

Forecast: Sunny

Laurenz Heymann

To be clear, let’s not think that the legal trouble will destroy Apple or even harm it substantially, it’s more of a distraction. However, the chances of unionization at these stores being successful have gone up dramatically with these complaints. Having solid evidence of the company breaking the law and mistreating its employees is perfect for union efforts. Considering that even Amazon workers have managed to unionize, it’s safe to say that any corporation can lose this race. In light of Apple’s clumsy approach and the union’s mounting power, betting on the union’s win seems like a good idea.

What’s interesting is whether these three stores’ votes will start off a wave of unionizations across the country. Perhaps Apple’s hard fight against the union will be the catalyst that’s needed to unite the workers and result in a historic upset for the corporation. Time will tell, but the forecast is sunny on this one.

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