United Tech & Allied Workers at Apple
Apple knows that a union will give staff more control over their work. They will go to great lengths to stop that from happening. You might hear managers come out with some of these union-busting classics:
"We're not allowed to join unions"
It's every worker's right to be in a union. This is a human right, protected by law and is completely normal in many industries and other companies.
"We have the Employee Representation Team (ERT) so we don't need another way of improving things in the workplace"
The only changes an ERT can make is ones that management already want to happen. There are ERT reps in the union because they know it's needed to make change happen.
"Unionising means bringing in a third-party that doesn't understand the business and will slow down change"
A union is us! We are the union! A union is just the workers in the store. There is no external body getting in the way. UTAW members at Apple have over a century of service between them; nobody understands the business better than us.
"The union will try and negotiate higher wages and better benefits, but there is no guarantee that it will achieve these aims. In Australia, the unionised store actually has fewer benefits"
There is no guarantee it will always win in negotiation, but the choice is between being able to negotiate in the first place or having no say at all. The Trade Union Act means that companies in the UK are not allowed to treat union workers differently or pay them less. We are already unionised in stores Across France, Spain, Germany, Sweden and Japan; all of those store receive all the same benefits everyone else has, plus additional pay and benefits they've negotiated such as additional pay increases, double time on evenings and weekends, and extended study leave. The store in Australia didn't receive the last set of benefits yet because Apple has not negotiated with them on pay and their members (the staff in their store) voted to reject the benefits until they are able to negotiate on pay. Apple has yet to have that negotiating session.
"Unions use collective bargaining to negotiate benefits, do you know and trust who will be negotiating on your behalf?"
We as members will democratically elect our reps going into negotiation so you will get to choose. Those reps will be supported by our experienced reps in UTAW who represent workers in the tech industry, and our national union the CWU who are one of the biggest unions with over 200,000 members and a long history of success with postal and telecom workers. Our existing in-store reps have been training and in action for the best part of a year and have supported many people here already in disciplinaries. UTAW is a dedicated to tech sector union, with organised members in Apple (including Corporate), Microsoft, Google, Monzo, and lots of other tech companies.
"Collective bargaining takes months to negotiate changes, unions can't keep promises and unions have no power"
Collective bargaining means any changes that Apple want to implement would be voted on by union members first of all. This means as a member you can accept positive changes and reject ones you dislike. This can be done very quickly. The time taken to implement changes is no different once a decision has been made by workers. Some union stores have had slower introduction of new benefits because Apple has not scheduled a meeting to accept terms with their union members, or the staff in that store voted to reject those benefits because they want to negotiate on something else, such as pay. A union's power comes from its members, who can bargain as a collective and withhold their labour or strike if their conditions are not met.
"The union makes decisions on behalf of everyone, even people who don't want to join a union"
If the union negotiates additional pay and benefits then everyone in the shop will likely get these, regardless of membership. Members get the added benefit of being able to vote in the process and get support from reps. No one will lose out on pay and benefits. No one has to be a member, and it's your right to join this or any other union. The union only represents the needs of its members, so if you're not interested you don't have to join. If you're not a union member you can take your concerns to the ERT, however the ERT has no authority to negotiate over anything.
"Unionisation could mean the loss of benefits"
It is illegal (Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992) for Apple to retaliate by taking away benefits enjoyed by colleagues in other stores. The whole point is for workers to be able to negotiate their pay and benefits, we've not been able to do that up until now.
Apple already provide good benefits and competitive pay so there's no need to unionise to get more"
Having a union means staff can ensure pay and benefits stay good, and it gives added protection against mistreatment. Inflation and bills are still rising so even if the pay was good before, it's been effectively cut.
"Apple recently improved our benefits which means they listen and care"
This only happened because they got spooked by stores unionising in the USA and elsewhere. It's unions who won that, it wasn't given by an enlightened management.
"Unionising could make career progression more difficult"
It wouldn't. It is illegal to treat someone unfairly for being a union member. An effective union would actually make career progress easier by negotiating to improve the relevant policies.
"Joining a union means I could lose my job, or I could be singled out as a troublemaker"
It's illegal to treat someone unfairly for being in a union. It's also illegal for a company to discourage you from joining. Your union membership is private, you don't have to tell Apple. Unions give you power in numbers, so the more people join the safer everyone is.
"If you don't like working here, you can find another job"
We're constantly told that we work for the best company in the world - why would we want to work anywhere else? Unionising would allow employees to have more say over the direction of the company and their careers. Improving pay and conditions means that you will not have to look for another job.
"Conversation regarding pay and development should be kept private and behind closed doors"
We're all here to earn money and progress our career, why shouldn't we compare notes? Apple is making millions from our work, it's only fair that we have transparency about it.
"We're a family"
We are not, we're a company. Families listen and support each other all the time, not just when it's convenient. And a family definitely doesn't exploit or drive wedges between its members.
"We can ask for things but we don't have any power to guarantee them"
That may be true for ERTs, but unions have the power to make things happen by leveraging our people power. Apple knows that the very existence of the union implies the threat of collective action, so they will negotiate to avoid that.
"Being a member of a union is an extra expense that a lot cannot afford at them moment"
You can't afford not to join! UTAW subs are some of the cheapest around, between £5-8 a month depending on your hours. It funds campaigns, provides reps and organisers with training, and pays for members' free legal support. It's less than the price of a cappuccino a week, and it all comes back to us in the end. It's been proven that union members make more money than non-members in the same jobs and sectors.
"Unionising could lead to job losses"
Apple have the finances to protect jobs, any losses would be a choice they make, not a result of unionising. Unionising would also protect our jobs because we can negotiate against any proposed job cuts and push back with collective action.
"Unions are corrupt or get rich off us"
This is a really common myth used against unions, particularly in America. Unions are made up of workers, our union doesn't pay anyone millions in salaries, our activists are volunteers, we have paid organisers and legal support, every penny of our subscriptions goes to support us and our fellow members.
"Unions don't do anything"
Unions won things that we now take for granted like paid holiday, sick pay, minimum wage, the 40 hour week, ended child labour, breaks including lunch, overtime, maternity leave, pensions, improved pay equality, workplace harassment protections and much more.
"You'll have to strike"
There are lots of ways to have collective power without resorting to a strike, called action-short-of-a-strike.
"We value everything our staff bring to Apple"
Then they should value us enough to recognise our union and negotiate on our very reasonable demands! Actions speak louder than words of affirmation.
"Unions are inherently adversarial which goes against Apple's principles"
We are asking for voluntary recognition, which is the opposite of adversarial as we want to work with Apple to achieve this. We are not anti-Apple, simply pro-worker.Want to hear more about what we do? Follow us on Twitter: