American manufacturing giant, Apple, has to deal with several controversies annually. This is more or less a regular situation for many large multinational companies. According to reports, U.S. labour groups and investors have submitted a shareholder proposal asking Apple to review the issue of “how it treats the rights of its employees”. The proposal, submitted by groups including union pension fund adviser, SOC Investment Group and a branch of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), alleges that Apple’s public commitments, such as freedom of association, are not matched by its actual actions.
Apple is strongly against unionization
One such action is the company’s strong desire to prevent unionization. There is a clear inconsistency between what Apple has on paper and what it does on the ground. Thus, the group accuses Apple of “infidelity” (cheating)
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“If a company’s values diverge from its actual behaviour, that’s a problem,” said Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of SOC Investment Group.
Other submitters for the proposal include New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, asset managers Trillium Asset Management and Parnassus Investments. In May, the Communications Workers Association of America (CWA) accused Apple of violating federal labour laws by interrogating and monitoring employees. The company also restrict them from posting union flyers and forcing them to attend anti-union speeches. In addition, Apple has hired anti-union lawyers at Littler Mendelson, the largest labour law firm in the United States. This is in an attempt to prevent employees from forming unions.
Apple’s 2023 shareholder proposal will expire tomorrow (September 8). Labour groups and investors are submitting shareholder proposals at this time. This is in addition to the hopes of capitalizing on the recent upsurge of unionization. It also coincides with Apple’s release of a new generation of iPhone. Two proposals won a majority at Apple’s shareholder meeting in March. One requires Apple to conduct a civil rights audit, while the other would require Apple to review its use of nondisclosure clauses and other agreements to limit workers’ speech.
In addition to Apple, companies such as Amazon and Starbucks are also working hard to prevent workers from unionizing.