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Apple Retail Stores Under Attack; Union Seeks $30 Minimum Wage and More!

Employees at Apple’s flagship store in Grand Central Terminal, New York City, seek $30 per hour, tuition reimbursement, greater vacation time, better retirement options and more.  These employees created a group called Fruit Stand Workers United, which seeks to join Workers United and is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”).  Workers United is the union currently overseeing the wildly successful Starbucks unionization drives.  Fruit Stand Workers United have been active for the last few months, and just posted its first public-facing website this past weekend.

This push for increased wages and greater benefits is just another example of QSR and retail employees’ belief in their increased value in an ever-tightening labor market.  Currently, Apple retail employees make between $17 – $30 per hour.  In response to these recent demands, an Apple spokesman said, “We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full time and part time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits.”

The critical next step for Fruit Stand Workers United will be to collect union authorization cards from 30% of the 270 eligible employees at Apple’s Grand Central location.   When and if obtained, they will submit the cards to the National Labor Relations Board and request a union election.  Once filed a vote would take place in between 12 and 42 days.  To win, the union needs votes from more than 50% of those employees who caste ballots. 

The move by these Apple workers is just the latest show of workplace activism spreading across the country, joining workers from Amazon, Starbucks, REI and elsewhere.  When the movement will stop no one knows.  The COVID pandemic, the tightened labor market and a 40-year high inflation rate, is causing many frontline workers to re-examine the risks and benefits associated with their jobs.  A recent national survey of Millennial and Gen Z workers resulted in 42% of these workers indicating they would rather be unemployed than unhappy at work.  Companies across the country are finding it hard to negotiate with workers who have such a mindset.

We expect significant union activity to continue at least through the next presidential election and are advising many of our clients to prepare for potential union activity at their locations. Employers should prepare now for what may be coming. 

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on all issues involving unions, staying union-free, complying with the newest decision issued by the NLRB, and training management on how to deal with all these challenges.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.