Apple withholds latest employee benefits from Unified Store

Apple withholds latest employee benefits from Unified Store

Apple Inc. is blocking. Its latest benefits for employees over employees who work in its only retail store.

Apple Inc. is blocking. Its latest employee benefits are employees who work at its only retail store, a move that could further inflame labor tensions at the tech giant.

The company told retail and corporate employees this week that it will increase benefits for outdoor educational classes and health care, according to people familiar with the matter. Workers will get more money to pursue courses, and employees in some states will be able to access the benefits of the new health plan, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the program has not been publicly announced.

It’s part of a broader effort to reward workers at the Cupertino, California, company, which has had to weather inflationary pressures, a tight labor market and changing worker demands during the pandemic. But the company was quick to tell employees at its union retail location — a shop in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland — that they would not receive the new perks.

The reason given was that the Towson Store needed to negotiate benefits with Apple via the collective bargaining arrangement that comes with the union. This approach is not unique to Apple. The exclusion of union stores from the new benefits has also been a flashpoint in the labor dispute at Starbucks, where about 250 coffee shops have voted to join unions over the past year. Starbucks introduced a series of new perks at non-union stores, including increases and training on student debt, while saying it could not legally provide them to unionized locations.

Apple’s move could discourage employees in other cities from forming unions for their stores, but it could further inconvenience workers. The company refused to comment.

Employees at an Apple store in Oklahoma City are set to vote this week on whether to join America’s telecommunications workers, and work groups are looking to rally workers to more of the company’s U.S. stores in the coming months. The iPhone maker has also struggled with opposition from some employees in its office staff, who have been ordered to return to work in person in recent months.

New features include: Apple pays some tuition in advance for overseas education. The company has long reimbursed employees for a portion of education costs, but the iPhone maker will now pay the amount up front. This will start at a few colleges, although the list is expected to expand over time. Program with Coursera Inc. Starts January 1st giving Apple employees a free membership. Coursera is an online course provider that typically charges $399 per year for its premium subscription. In some states, including Connecticut, New York, Georgia, Washington and New Jersey, employees will get a new health care plan that waives the co-pay for certain Apple-certified physicians within the UnitedHealth Group Inc network. Apple has been expanding other benefits for workers over the past year. The company previously raised vacation and sick days, and has long offered health care and product discounts.

The store in Maryland, represented by the International Federation of Machinists and the Aerospace Workers Union, is preparing to start formal negotiations with Apple. Its working group in recent days has provided employees with evidence to negotiate with Apple and hold talks with managers.

According to an internal survey provided with evidence obtained by Bloomberg News, this site’s first negotiating priority is general pay increases, followed by cost-of-living adjustments, better work-life balance, better communication and more employees.

Apple’s union-related moves have come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, with the US National Labor Relations Board and Communications Workers in America accusing the iPhone maker of discriminating against pro-union employees.

In the Starbucks case, the union said it had waived the right to negotiate receiving concessions that had already been offered to other stores — meaning that employees should receive them automatically. United Workers, the group trying to regulate Starbucks, has described the denial of benefits as a union-busting tactic.

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