CODE-CWA Newsletter: April 29
CODE-CWA Newsletter: April 29
“Somebody has got to be the first to do something. Being first doesn’t matter to us—doing it is what matters to us. And if we have to be first, we will be first.” - Derrick Bowles, Apple Genius worker and union member on being the Apple Retail Store in US to File for Union Election
Tech workers are unionizing… adding to the labor wave we’re seeing in various industries across America. Last week, Apple workers in Atlanta became the first US store at Apple Retail to file for a union election with CWA. At the same time, they launched the Apple Retail Union (if you know anyone who works at an Apple store send them to: https://www.appleretailunion.org/). This effort comes on the heels of a successful Amazon warehouse voe to unionize and a successful union drive at Starbucks. At Starbucks, one successful union drive has led to a cascade of 16 others. Employees want to unionize because they feel they deserve a seat at the table and their fair share of Apple's exorbitant profits. Nevertheless, the companies they work for do not make it easy.
Tech Giants like Apple, Amazon, and Google may be pioneers in their fields, but when it comes to respecting their workers rights to organize, not one of them have committed to high road standards. Instead most have resorted to archaic tactics that hurt workers, and in turn only end up hurting their self image. However, no matter what these companies do, all they do is delay the inevitable. Workers will eventually unionize. There is no doubt about that.
We at CWA are here to help working people fight back against exploitation and low wages, and make tech, digital, and gaming companies a better place for employees. Workers at Apple have recently launched the Apple Retail Union with CWA, joining Alphabet Workers Union (CWA) and Game Workers Alliance (CWA) to name a few and we continue to expand every day. If you are wondering if organizing is worth all the effort, take a look at history. Unions make a difference! They are for anyone who feels their wages aren’t enough. They are for people who believe that workers in similar positions with similar experience should get paid the same regardless of race or gender. They are for those who believe that workers need a seat at the bargaining table and a voice at the workplace. If you want to improve the conditions at your workplace, contact CWA. We are ready to help and organize with you. Reach out!
On April 30th, join us for an organizer training at 11 AM PST where we talk about union basics, the CWA organizing models, and some key ways to connect with co-workers through organizing. Check the CODE-CWA organizer training program for upcoming classes!
Apple Store workers in Atlanta are the first in US to formally seek a union
Last week, Apple retail workers at the Apple Cumberland Mall store in Atlanta, Georgia filed for a union election with the NLRB, becoming the first group of Apple retail workers in the United States to seek formal recognition for their union. The workers will be represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The newly formed union includes Apple salespeople, technicians, creatives, and operations specialists. Currently over 70% of the group of more than 100 eligible workers have signed union authorization cards. According to Derrick Bowles, a Cumberland Apple store worker, “As we sat back and re-evaluated, what we realized is that we love being at Apple—and leaving Apple, that’s not something any of us wants to do. But improving it is something we wanted to do.” The store in Atlanta is not alone. Many Apple employees want to unionize, and interest has been mounting since last year. This recent wave of unionizing at Apple was catalyzed by the company’s desire to make employees come back to work. Being forced to come back to the office made people speak up about workplace problems like harassment and inequality. Read more on Bloomberg and The New York Times
This is what Apple retail employees in Atlanta are fighting for
Apple retail employees have written an open letter explaining what changes they are pushing for: fair compensation and transparency on alleged pay inequality within the company, a commitment to promote more BIPOC employees into leadership positions, and increased COVID-19 safety measures in stores. “We want to have a voice in our workplace,” says Elli Daniels, a retail employee and union organizer. “We are doing this because we adore Apple and we love our jobs and we want to make sure we can continue to love the company as much as we do right now. We aren’t doing this because we want to turn our backs on the company.” Read more on The Verge
From Amazon to Apple, tech giants deploy old-school union busting
At major tech companies, when employees unionize, the companies should respect their choice and voluntarily recognize the union. Unfortunately Amazon, Apple, and Google have resorted to old-school union busting as a means to discourage the workers. Google had a hidden project called Vivian, that was all about union-busting at the company, and even hired anti-union firm IRI consultants. When workers organize, they are fed propaganda about how unions seek to take your money and individual voice. Those that speak out or lead the organizational effort are fired to discourage others. “There’s a concerted effort to prevent us from talking to workers and a concerted effort to scare workers. It’s not convincing anyone, but it’s pissing them off,” said Julian Mitchell-Israel, an Amazon worker. Amazon has been hiring union-busting consultants for decades, and in 2020 it hired Pinkerton— a company that has been union-busting since the 1800’s— to stop the unionization at Wholefoods. Workers are fighting back, but only time will tell when they actually win. Read more on The Washington Post
Apple Store employee explains why he’s unionizing
An Apple Store in Atlanta is organizing to be the tech giant’s first unionized store in the country. Apple is one of the few companies with a market value in the trillions of dollars, but this profitability could not have been done without the employees that work in Apple Stores across the nation. Standard of living has also been steadily on rise but employees wages do not match that. Workers believe they deserve a seat at the table along with a wage that reflects the success of the company. Genius Bar technician Derrick Bowles explains why he and his coworkers are making the move. “Unions are a way to guarantee that everybody gets a fair wage. It doesn't matter your race. It doesn't matter your gender. It doesn't matter your sexual orientation. None of that matters. In the union, you are altogether. You are all working together, and everybody gets a fair shot.” Watch the full video on ABC
Apple hires anti-union lawyers in escalating union fight
An Apple store in Atlanta overwhelmingly voted to hold a union election, marking a historic win for employees within the company. Apple responded by hiring Littler Mendelson— an anti-union law firm who has represented companies like Starbucks and McDonalds. Littler Mendelson is open about its union busting stance and frequently guides companies on how to identify organization efforts as well as how to dissuade employees from unionizing. The arrival of the company is evidence of the firm stance the company has adopted towards unionization. As Sara Steffens, Secretary- Treasurer at CWA explains, “By retaining the notorious union busting firm Littler Mendelson, Apple’s management is showing that they intend to try to prevent their employees from exercising their right to join a union by running the same playbook as other large corporations. The workers at Starbucks, another Littler client, aren’t falling for it and neither will the workers at Apple.” Read more on The Verge
Activision Blizzard again accused of threatening employees for speaking out
CWA has filed a second unfair labor practice charge against Activision for telling workers that they could not discuss issues related to the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit filed by state of California against the company. Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees have the right to discuss matters relating to wages, hours and working conditions. According to former Blizzard senior test analyst Jessica Gonzalez, the company has a “pattern of retaliation against workers who speak out,” which has only gotten stronger as the company faces further legal challenges and complaints. Read the full story on The Verge
This Week in History
APRIL 28, 1971 – Congress creates OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The AFL-CIO sets April 28 as “Workers Memorial Day” to honor all workers killed or injured on the job every year.
MAY 1, 1886 – Eight-hour day demonstrations in Chicago and other cities begins tradition of May Day as the International Labor holiday.
Song of the Week
Hold the Line by Tom Morello (feat. grandson): Union Strong Edit
You gotta stay steadfast
'Cause they're looking for a reason to knock you down
But you can't ask too politely
In the trenches you gotta get loud/
Hold the line
Hold the line
Don't pay 'em no mind
Oh, hold the line
Nobody said it happens overnight
But if you're looking for a sign
Remember everybody that stood up before you
Oh, they hold the line
They wanna tell you, you're already free
Put these chains on and rob you blind
When they co-op the movement
Don't trip, just hold the line
Grindr United-CWA Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against Grindr’s Unlawful Severance Agreements & More