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Apple initiating 'union awareness' training for retail managers

Apple on Tuesday will launch a new mandatory training program to educate its retail managers on how to deal with unions.

According to an internal document first obtained by CNET, all new store managers will be required to take the training course, which starts Tuesday. All managers will also be required to take it biannually.

"This course is intended to provide managers with a practical understanding of how unions affect the workplace, how and why employees organize, and the legal do's and don'ts of dealing with unions," the course's description reads. "This is a mandatory class for all new managers, and is required biannually for all managers."

The training is also billed as a "great opportunity" for managers to meet the company's legal team and ask any questions.

It's possible the training is meant as a defensive counter to recent calls for an Apple retail union. In May, a group called the "Apple Retail Workers Union" contacted members of the press to gain publicity and support in hopes of unionizing in response to "unfair treatment" at Apple's retail stores.

The company's retail initiative turned 10 years old this year, with a total of 357 stores around the world as of the end of September. The unit, however, is in flux, as Ron Johnson, the executive who built Apple's retail stores into a booming business, left the company at the beginning of this month to become the CEO at J.C. Penney. Apple has not announced his replacement, though the company has said it is actively looking for his replacement.