- The National Labor Relations Board found merit to five charges that Apple violated the Nation Labor Relations Act, Kayla Blado, director and press secretary for the NLRB, confirmed Feb. 1 to HR Dive.
- Four charges alleged violations of Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA; the board found various work rules, handbook rules and confidentiality rules at Apple violated Section 8(a)(1) because they “reasonably tend to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to protected concerted activity,” Blado said. NLRB also found merit in a fifth charge that found statements and conduct by Apple, particularly high-level executives, also violated the NLRA.
- If Apple and the charging parties don’t settle, NLRB’s regional director will issue a complaint and prosecute the charges in a hearing with an NLRB administrative law judge, Blado explained.
Among the complaints that have been made public through Freedom of Information Act requests, Apple employees alleged that Apple’s HR department foiled attempts by workers to voluntarily gather wage data and that Apple “maintain[ed] work rules that prohibit employees from discussing wages, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment.”
At least two of the charges were filed by Ashley Gjovik, who previously worked as an engineer at Apple from February 2015 through September 2021, according to her personal website. Gjovik also shared a September 2021 memo from CEO Tim Cook to employees, in which he expressed frustration that workers were leaking information about internal meetings to the press.
“I want you to know that I share your frustration,” Cook wrote, referencing alleged complaints from workers about leaks. “These opportunities to connect as a team are really important. But they only work if we can trust that the content will stay within Apple. I want to reassure you that we are doing everything in our power to identify those who leaked. As you know, we do not tolerate disclosures of confidential information, whether it’s product IP or the details of a confidential meeting. We know that the leakers constitute a small number of people. We also know that people who leak confidential information do not belong here.”
According to a journalist’s tweets and a news story included in Gjovik’s packet to the NLRB, commentary at the meeting appeared to involve pay, benefits and progress toward diversity goals.
Gjovik also provided the NLRB with excerpts from Apple’s employee handbook, including those related to speaking with the press, misconduct and discipline, managing conflicts of interest and many more topics.
NLRB did not specify which aspects of the supportive material it found to have merit, though it did point to handbook and confidentiality rules as incriminating, as well as statements by high-level executives.
Like big tech peer Amazon, Apple has been contending with retail worker unionization efforts in recent months, among its other labor troubles. The New York City comptroller, on behalf of several stakeholders, in September filed a shareholder proposal calling on Apple to audit its labor practices. Just a few weeks ago, Apple reached an agreement to conduct the audit, with a public release of its findings set for late 2023.