back to article Apple trains store bosses to ignore deal with unions

Apple has begun training its US store managers on how to deal with attempts by retail workers to organise themselves into unions. According to a document seen by Cnet, the course will provide managers with "a practical understanding of how unions affect the workplace, how and why employees organize, and the legal do's and don' …


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  1. Cave Dweller

    Mildly dissapointed...

    I thought Apple had trains, and that's where they stored their iBoss robot army.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're Not The First

    This is not really anything new (well, perhaps it is for Apple). In my dim and distant past I have worked for both McDonalds and Dixons. Both of which failed to acknowledge unions. McDonalds had a very hard-line "ooh, that's contrary to the harmonious workplace we strive for, so you're sacked" approach, whereas Dixons pre-empted any uprising with their own "Talkback Team" process - basically a poor, unfortunate soul from a shop who met on a monthly basis with other poor, unfortunate souls to be told how lucky they are to be able to work for Dixons by one of the senior managers.

    Oddly, later on in life I worked for a retailer (who I'm still, slightly, affiliated to, hence AC) who tried to pin a break-in on me. I joined the union for support and they were f*cking useless. Brilliant. What a waste of a month's dues. So now I'm not in any union. If I think my next meeting with my boss is going to be a rough one I record it on my funky spy-watch (it's even got a camera!) just to be safe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      hmm, not surprised they we're fucking useless, maybe they guessed you were only joining to get some support and would leave again once you'd taken their help...

      In contrast, when my union stepped in to help when I was in a dispute with my previous company they were fucking excellent. My team leader was obviously shitting it when my union rep turned up for a meeting with him and someone from HR. As soon as they knew someone who understood employment law was sat opposite they soon stopped posturing and things were resolved relatively amicably. Perfectly reasonable at 7 quid a month...

    2. David Neil

      Did you join the union before or after the allegation was made?

      Makes a difference in how bothered they are imo

    3. Gerry Doyle 1

      So you ignore unions for years, then turn up when you're in trouble, signing up for a month expecting the union to sort you out? Not a bit surprised they didn't help you.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @They're Not The First

      So you got into trouble, then joined the union hoping they'd help you. Sorry that's not how it works. You join the union when everything is fine and they help you when you later get into trouble. As a senior Union rep, my support for anyone joining after they get into trouble would be minimal to say the least. In fact in this Union you're no entitled to any legal support until you've been a member for six months.

      After all. you can't take out an insurance policy after your house has been burgled, then try to claim on it.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        re @They're Not The First

        So you are essentially running a protection racket. Nice.

        1. ed2020

          Bullshit. You clearly have no understanding of how a protection racket works.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Ouch! That wasn't nice at all.

          Unfortunately I think you just made a good point. There are thugs and gangsters in charge of a good chunk of the unions, particularly up in the Northern US. Not all mind you, but I know Chicago and New York union thugs are openly notorious for sabotage at trade shows if you do anything yourself. At a trade show in New York, they made it perfectly clear that if they didn't do all the work setting up, that accidents might occur. Indeed that's a protection racket. For me Unions == Criminals from the actions I've observed.

          anonymous for obvious reasons. I don't want Hoffa coming after me.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @all (or most) - for clarity (from original AC poster)

            There seems to be a suggestion that I joined the union purely for help on this occasion - with the intention of leaving straight afterwards. Wrong. I was a little green back then and hadn't even bothered to look into unions. The fact is, the union rep approached me and told me I HAD to join if I wanted some support as a solicitor would be unable to assist in this case (like I said, I was somewhat green). If I had got satisfaction I would have continued as a member - in exactly the same way as I would continue to use any service that made me feel valued or provided an actual benefit.

            Sadly, in this case, I was left with sod all support and ended up going to a solicitor anyway. The threat of which was enough for the company to drop the case.

  3. Error Message Silver badge

    Apple treats unions in its Stores the way it treats malware on its products

    In both cases, it tries to use a Reality Distortion Field and pretend they don't exist.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For you full timers...

    Take a look at Apples' stock price appreciation and just think how lucky you are, as I've assumed you have at least participated in those share buying schemes that most US tech companies offer over 6 month periods. Hmm, Part-timers, unions have their place and function, but realise that you are working for a company that is on the up and has been, consistently, over the last 10 years or so...just sayin'...

    1. Daniel B.

      Same company that hasn't given out any dividends for more than a decade. How's that a good investment? It's only good if you sell the stock before the imminent nosedive...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Beyond job security what benefit is there in working for a company "that is on the up and has been, consistently, over the last 10 years or so"?

      This upward trend will be in part due to the people working for the company at every level and there should be no need for a successful company to feel threatened by any of its employees organising themselves to represent their interests collectively.

      Frankly it's efficient all round and you'd think a modern company might appreciate that.

      Unions do indeed 'have their place' and this looks like their place to me.

      1. Armando 123

        Don't knock job security. The time I've spent working on getting a new job the last three-four years isn't minimal, and being out of work doesn't pay well.

  5. Armando 123


    "Apple Retail Workers Union"

    So, in two years' time, MicroSoft will announce the MicroSoft Enterprise Retail and Kinect International Network (MERKIN) to "bring MicroSoft's world-famous quality experience to it retail buzzword buzzword buzzword", spend 2-3 billion on it, then it never materializes until two years after the first announced date, and it involves brown Zunes or something.

    1. Darryl

      The only thing I understood from your rant was the title - Huh - and it's a good response to your comment. What does Apple battling unions have to do with Microsoft?

    2. Crofty616

      RE Huh

      Cant tell if trolling or trying to give me a brain hemorrhage...

  6. ratfox

    Apple must be quaking

    I'm sure it's going to be hard to find other employees if those threaten to leave... What with the low unemployment and all...

  7. PsychicMonkey


    Why do the staff need training at all? I thought they were geniuses?

    1. bolccg

      Only some of them, and they're at the bar...

  8. Johnny Bluejeans

    "Apple Retail Workers Union"

    "Retail worker" is not skilled labor, any old twat can do it. Unemployment is at 9% in the States, so just shovel off the unionist dross and pull in new unskilled employees to stand around looking smug all day.

    Not really a big deal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Retail worker" is not skilled labor, any old twat can do it.

      ...and given that attitude, I guess you shop in places where the staff really are that bad.

      Thing is, when companies don't care who they employ, just how cheap they are - that's when they get monkeys.

      Knowledgeable customer service? It is out there, but it ain't cheap.

      So you'll probably never find it. You'll just keep on complaining about the shitty service you always seem to get. And you just can't understand why...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Johnny Bluejeans

      -"Retail worker" is not skilled labor, any old twat can do it.-

      I bet you fucking couldn't. Twat!

    3. Armando 123

      I wouldn't go that far ... half the zombies in government bureaucracy couldn't do it ... but I hear what you're saying.

      Funny, though, how so many of the pro-union people these days (teachers, government workers in Ohio, Apple retail employees) are driving cars not made by unions. Which says a lot, IMnsHO.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    My only experience with Unions was with my dad, who was a 25 year union member who was left swinging by the union when he was accused of theft. The shop steward knew damn well who did it, but wouldnt get involved because it was his mate, and my dad was from Liverpool and quite obviously guilty as far as management was concerned.

    Fortunately, he was able to prove he was at a customers place and *couldnt* have done it.

    After that he never got involved with a union again, and was rather insistant we didnt as well.

    1. Gerry Doyle 1

      So one bloke, allegedly, didn't do his job and the whole organisation and concept is condemned? There were reasons why workers organised unions in the first place, and the more people who leave the more likely we are to find out those reasons...

      1. Armando 123

        Well, if a union won't do THE ONE JOB it claims to do at the cost of a big chunk of your paycheck, ...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "the whole organisation and concept is condemned?"

        Unions cause power/authority to be concentrated in places where it wouldn't otherwise be; Without enforceable checks and balances, without regard to qualification or integrity, the loudest, yappiest people in the place rise to the top. The concept is condemnable because it's crap, the organisation is condemnable because this was inevitable. This guy's just an example.

  10. Jean-Paul

    A union is a pyramid scheme

    Can't stand unions, they are only good for giving those useless idiots at the top a decent salary they would never have gotten through a days hard work. Waste of space that lot.

    1. Armando 123

      "they are only good for giving those useless idiots at the top a decent salary they would never have gotten through a days hard work"

      You're forgetting the unfireable idiots at the bottom.

    2. Dagg

      A Good Union works

      SWMBO is a nurse and ran into a major bullying issue at work, basically her boss had a major go at her. She reported it to the union and they stepped in to get it all sorted. Management immediately listened and had a word to the boss person involved. Everything was sorted quickly and she still has the same job and boss, but now the boss has pulled his head in.

      Without a union she would have got jack shit from management.

  11. Vitani


    Twice a year, or once every two years? Biannually/bimonthly/biweekly are such confusing terms ...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll stay skeptical...

    On the sinister motives many are trying to attribute to Apple over this. Their managers could expose them to massive liability if they deal improperly with employees who attempt to unionize. So, until evidence suggests otherwise, I'll go with the theory that this is exactly what they're claiming

    On a related note, the problem I have with unions is that, in order to work, they need to include everyone, so for all practical purposes, they have to force everyone at the employer to join. The preferred method, of course, is the union shop, which has the union as a group of extortionist thugs too chicken to do their own enforcement.

  13. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Try the colonies

    It's like the 70s here. Everyone has to be the union if you aren't "a professional".

    I might have an Oxbridge PhD but since software isn't real engineering I'm not an engineer - so I'm in the teamsters (of Casino fame !).

    In theory I can't work overtime without union permission - oddly that doesn't seem to be enforced. For which I pay a $500 joining fee and a monthly sub about as much as my annual professional CS subscription used to be.

  14. cocknee

    re Jean Paul "A union is a pyramid scheme"

    No it's not, it's a collective membership that tries to ensure that employers work reasonably.

    Hard workers in a union don't like seeing lazy fuckers either and actually most of the ones I've known wern't in the union anyway as their selfish attitude attested.

    I'd hate to do the "what have the Romans done for us" analogy but I'd rather not return to the serfdom that was before the 20th century. The dark satanic mills, mines, factories, Ford etc didn't change their ways through altruism and wouldn't have done if it wasn't for the unions. You can doth your cap whilst being shafted up your backside.

    You are reaping the benefits of all that stood before you but like a parasite you won't give anything back. Like most of the people that don't join a union as it's "done nuffin' for me" attitude, go and work in Foxconn or a blood diamond mine in Zimbabwe, they hate unions too - otherwise shut the fuck up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't think so

      Hard workers in a union don't like seeing lazy fuckers either and actually most of the ones I've known wern't in the union anyway as their selfish attitude attested.

      Bullshit. Lazy + no union = fired. Most of the lay-abouts I've met in my working life enforce their lying-about by meeting any request to do anything with a whiny, "that's not my job," in full confidence that if anyone tried to pull them up on it, their union rep would confirm that whatever request it was was somehow non-compliant with the collective bargaining agreement/job description. They brag about this.

      ""done nuffin' for me" attitude, go and work in Foxconn or a blood diamond mine in Zimbabwe, they hate unions too - otherwise shut the fuck up."

      More bullshit. A union can do little to improve your working conditions above and beyond what is required by law. Occupational health & safety standards are a little lower in China and Zimbabwe than in the west.

      Unions are the parasites. Western society creeps forward, legislating for ever-higher minimum standards of living, and the unions are there all the way, telling the worker he'd be fucked without them because the likes of him can't talk to the guys in the big offices, and quietly pocketing their cut. Man will be free when the last labour organiser is hanged by the entrails of the last priest.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love unions!

    I'm a contractor. ;)

  16. lpatac

    What's the problem?

    So, you don't think that the workers have any ideas that can make your workplace better? You don't think that working people should have a say in their working conditions? So, you don't think that working people are hard working?

    Unions are the only way for working people to have any control over their working conditions, unless you are related to the boss. C'mon man. Are you just incredibly not all there mentally? Union workers are better trained and more efficient than non-union workers.

    A company that sits on close to 80 billion dollars of profits, while about 25 million Americans are unemployed, or underemployed, is not the best organization to dictate to its employees. The people that got them there. C'mon Man!

  17. Slabfondler

    Just ask IBM...

    They are quite adept at keeping unions out of the shop so to speak.

  18. DanceMan

    Most of the anti-union comments come from "experts" who've never been in one. I've worked in both union and non-union jobs, and never met the stereotypes invoked by the critics. Pay was better in the union jobs.

  19. cocknee

    re: I don't think so

    What a load of bollocks. F****** stereo-type right wing rubbish

    If workers (use the term with irony) are layzing around doing very little, then it's managements fault for letting them get away with it. I'd get rid of the useless managers and the useless employees. Unions don't help the lazy and feckless. It's easy to sack useless people.

    All unions do in these cases are making sure that due-process is complied with, I've seen plenty sacked over the years and like defence lawyers, they defend their clients rights and make sure they get a fair hearing but if they're guilty then punishment will be the order of the day.

    "More bullshit. A union can do little to improve your working conditions above and beyond what is required by law."

    Where do you think these laws came from in the first place - the altruistic state or company - are you derranged? It was pressure from unions and collectivism - the needs of the many etc.

    "Occupational health & safety standards are a little lower in China and Zimbabwe than in the west." ermmmm what planet are you on? Well in Zimbabwe they often beat people to death, I suggest for the good of society you go and work over there!

    I've also seen plenty of bullying at work as well in both public and private sector. Unions help the victims address the problem and often it's the bully that gets the sack - good f***** riddence.

    Unions are not parasites, you don't have to join but like most selfish c***s you can reap the benefits of all the others hard work and keep your dues to yourself. I've never seen a non-union member refuse the pay-rise or improvement in conditions negotiated by the union, they're the parasites. People in the non-unionised industry also benefit from improvements in conditions - though often the pay in the state sector is behind the private sector - not that the Daily Hell etc would have you beleive that with their twisted statisics - only got to look at their editors pay and also how many industrial tribunals against them to realise that they're liars and hypocrites.

    Society will be better when all deranged selfish bastards and exploiters are hanging from the city gates or in asylums for criminal sociopaths and psychopaths.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Unions are not parasites, you don't have to join..."

      Really? You haven't heard, then, of the union shop? Depending on one's industry - and local jurisdiction - it can be impossible to work without joining a union.

      Any group that will say "join us, and pay dues, or we'll get you fired" is an extortionist racket.

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