Apple denied unionized workers better benefits, NLRB claims

Illustration: The Verge

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) claims Apple denied a set of new benefits to unionized employees at its Towson, Maryland store, according to a complaint filed on Tuesday.

In the complaint, the NLRB alleges Apple didn’t extend enhanced benefits to Towson workers with the goal of “discouraging” other employees from unionizing. Some of those new benefits include new healthcare options, a free Coursera subscription, and prepaid tuition at some colleges.

The Apple store in Towson became the first Apple retail location in the US to unionize last year with a historic vote to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). Apple first introduced its new benefits in October 2022. Once the workers in Towson learned they’d been excluded, they wrote a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook to express their disappointment and filed a complaint with the NLRB.

“We are pleased that the NLRB has recognized the importance of upholding the rights of IAM CORE members and ensuring that all Employers, regardless of size, respect our Federal laws,” IAM Eastern Territory general vice president David Sullivan says in a statement. Apple didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

The workers’ union also filed a complaint against Apple on behalf of Towson employees in July, alleging the company has made “intentional moves to derail” their progress. A hearing on this latest unfair labor practice charge will take place before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge on February 20th, 2024. The NRLB is seeking a “notice reading” that will inform workers of its findings “among other remedies that are just and appropriate.”

In addition to Towson, Apple workers at an Oklahoma City store voted to unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) last year. Apple hasn’t been the most receptive to union activity so far, with a story from Bloomberg earlier this year reporting that store managers held meetings in an attempt to warn workers about the “risks” of unionizing.

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