February 21, 2024

Apple will review its U.S. labor practices under an agreement with a consortium of investors that includes five New York City pension funds.

The company said in a statement that the review will focus on whether Apple complies with its official human rights policy as it pertains to “the freedom of association and collective bargaining rights of American workers.” record last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The audit comes amid complaints from federal regulators and employees that the company has repeatedly violated workers’ labor rights over the past year as it attempted to unionize. Apple has denied the allegations.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, who helped initiate the discussions with Apple on behalf of the New York City Public Employees Pension Fund, said: “There is a clear gap between Apple’s stated human rights policies regarding worker organizing and its practices. big gap.”

As part of an agreement with the investor coalition that also includes other pension funds for unionized workers, Apple agreed to hire a third-party firm to conduct the assessment, the coalition said Tuesday in a letter to the company’s chairman. The letter also made recommendations for the evaluation, including hiring a firm with expertise in labor rights that is “as independent as possible.”

Apple’s federal filing did not explicitly mention a third party, and the company declined further comment.

As of last week, members of the investor coalition controlled about $7 billion worth of Apple stock, giving it a market capitalization of more than $2 trillion. In a financial document announcing the review, Apple provided few details, saying it would conduct the review before the end of the year and would issue a report related to the review.

Last year, workers at two Apple stores in Towson, Maryland, and Oklahoma City voted to unionize, and workers at two other stores filed petitions to hold union elections before withdrawing them.

Many employees who are unionized at the company say they like their jobs and praise their employers, citing perks like health care and stock grants and satisfaction with using Apple products. But they said they hoped unionization would help them win higher salaries, more time commitment and transparency in accessing job assignments and promotions.

In May, Apple announced it was raising its minimum wage from $20 to $22 an hour, a move some workers interpreted as a move to undermine their organization.

Workers have also filed allegations that Apple violated labor laws at at least six stores, including accusing the company of illegal monitor them, banned union flyer in the lounge, interrogate them about their organization, threaten them get organized it says unionize will be in vain.

Communications Workers of America, the union representing Apple workers in Oklahoma City, also filed a TOLL Accused Apple of setting up an illegal corporate union at a store in Columbus, Ohio — a union created and controlled by management to stifle support for independent unions.

The National Labor Relations Board has issued formal complaints about two of the cases, involving stores in Atlanta and New York.

Apple said “we strongly disagree” with the allegations made to the labor board and looked forward to defending itself. The company emphasized that “regular, open, honest and direct communication with our team members is an important part of Apple’s collaborative culture.”

The investor coalition that pushed for the labor review argued that Apple’s response to the union movement was inconsistent with its human rights policy, which required it to respect the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which include “Freedom of Association and Effective Recognition of the Right to Collective Bargaining.”

The union initially contacted Apple’s board of directors last spring to discuss the company’s stance on union organizing, but received no substantive response, New York Comptroller Mr. Rand said.

The alliance then submitted a shareholder proposal in september Urging Apple to hire an outside firm to assess whether the company is living up to its commitment to labor rights. The company responded late last year, and the two sides struck a deal in exchange for the alliance withdrawing its proposal, according to Mr. Rand.

A coalition of some of the same investors, including a New York pension fund, has filed a similar proposal At Starbucks, employees have voted to unionize at more than 250 company-owned stores since the end of 2021.Like Apple, Starbucks has quote Its commitment to ILO standards, such as freedom of association and the right to participate in collective bargaining.

But Starbucks has resisted attempts by its employees to unionize, and Starbucks has not approached the investor coalition to reach an agreement. Jonas Kron, chief communications officer at Trillium Asset Management, one of the investors pushing the proposals for both companies, said he expected Starbucks’ proposal to be voted on by the company’s shareholders.

The federal labor board has filed dozens of formal complaints against Starbucks for violations, including retaliation against unionized workers and discrimination against unionized workers when it introduced new benefits; the company denies violating labor laws.

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