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Apple accused of retribution in firing five union activists

Apple Country Club Plaza, Kansas City

Apple's is crushing the will to organize by disciplining and now illegally firing staff, says the Communication Workers of America.

While Apple has signed union agreements for stores such as Apple Glasgow, it's also repeatedly been accused of taking steps to dissuade retail staff from unionizing. That includes anti-union comments from HR chief Deirdre O'Brien, and also alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

According to The Washington Post, further charges have now been filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) union. The CWA claims that Apple fired five Kansas City staff in retaliation for their union-organizing efforts.

In each of the five cases, Apple reportedly used tardiness and improperly filling out attendance forms as the reason for the firings. One fired employee, Gemma Wyatt, says she was put on disciplinary notice for being late for her shift by about one minute, three times in a month.

"I had a long history with the company, and I loved my job," Wyatt told The Washington Post. "They absolutely succeeded in crushing the will to organize at our store."

"People are, of course, interested in having a say in their working conditions," she continued, "but not risking their livelihood."

Kansas City staff have been attempting to organize a union for about a year. During that year, Apple reportedly began holding optional meetings about unionization, then ultimately made them mandatory.

Another fired employee, Sergio Hernandez Jr, said he became an activist when he saw that some store workers got paid a premium for speaking Spanish, while others did not.

The CWA claims that at the separate Memorial City Store in Houston, staff were interrogated about their support for unions. They were allegedly promised improvements to their working conditions if they didn't support the union, and one worker was disciplined after saying they did support unionization.

Apple's reported position in the mandatory anti-union meetings echoes Deirdre O'Brien's comments, which are that unions get between Apple and its staff. Separately, staff have claimed that unions are needed precisely because Apple distances itself from its staff and their concerns.

One Apple Store employee said in 2022, that saying anything to management, or complaining about anything, is "like writing a letter to Santa."

Apple has not commented on the CWA's latest filing with the National Labor Relations Board.