Apple is reportedly declining to offer new benefits to employees at its only unionized retail store. According to Bloomberg, the unionized workers at the store in Towson, Maryland, will need to negotiate for benefits with Apple as they hash out a collective bargaining agreement. The perks in question haven't been announced publicly as yet, but they're said to include additional health plan benefits in some jurisdictions, funds to take educational classes and a free Coursera membership.
The report suggests that by withholding benefits from the unionized workers, who have organized Apple may be dissuading workers at other retail stores from attempting to form a union. Workers at an Oklahoma City location are set to vote in a union election this week. Apple has faced labor tensions on other fronts, with some staff resisting a mandate to return to the company's offices (a stance that Apple eventually backed down from). The company has also been accused of union busting.
Withholding perks from unionized workers or those who plan to organize is not exactly a new issue. Starbucks has provided some benefits to non-union cafes, and claimed it couldn't offer them to unionized locations in one fell swoop. In April, Activision Blizzard said workers who were organizing at Raven Software (they've since voted to form a union) were ineligible for raises due to its legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act. The National Labor Relations Board determined last month that the company withheld raises due to the workers' union activity.
The workers at Apple's Towson store will soon start formal union contract negotiations with Apple. Engadget has contacted the company for comment. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers' Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (I AM CORE) provided the following statement to Engadget:
“Despite the news from Apple today, our goal is still the same. We are urging Apple to negotiate in good faith so we can reach an agreement over the next few weeks. The IAM CORE negotiating committee is dedicated to securing a deal that gives our IAM CORE members the proper respect and dignity at work and sets the standard in the tech industry.”