How Apple, Starbucks, Amazon and Tesla are opposing the unionization of their employees

Apple on Thursday announced a 10% increase in minimum wage at its US stores. Objective: to convince employees that they have no interest in entrusting their destiny to a union. But other giants have a much more offensive approach.

Wage increases to cope with inflation, better working conditions… With the sharp drop in unemployment in the United States, employers are more attentive to the demands of employees. Especially since the unions are in ambush to attack citadels that could seem impregnable.

This is the case for example at Apple. The management of the Californian giant announced on Thursday a sharp increase in the minimum wage in its American stores. As of July 1, it will increase from $20 to $22 per hour. A 10% increase which clearly exceeds the current level of inflation across the Atlantic (+8.3% over twelve months, end of April).

Apple: the warning from the HRD

The management thus intends to calm the discontent of these lowest paid employees: sellers and technicians who provide basic after-sales service in Apple Stores. Especially since this grumbling clearly pushes some of them to approve of the interference in their business by the union in their branch.

This fear also prompted the group’s human resources director, Deirdre O’Brien, to warn employees against this temptation two days ago, in an internal intervention that was recorded and widely relayed on social networks:

We have a relationship based on open, collaborative and direct engagement, which for me could fundamentally change if a store were represented by a union under a collective agreement. And I worry about what it would mean to put another organization in the middle of our relationship.”

The Starbucks CEO Threat

Why this reference to a store that decides to be represented by a union? Because in the United States, it is at this level that it is decided, the employees approving or rejecting by their vote the union representation on their site. And in recent months, it is gaining ground. In Apple Stores but also at Starbucks.

The CEO and founder of the American coffee giant obviously does not see this unionization in a good light. At the beginning of May, Howard Schultz therefore promised employees new increases, improvements on the social level, more advantages… on condition that they say no to the unionization of the establishment where they work.

A skillfully presented threat. This billionaire boss, who supported Joe Biden in the last presidential election, explained that, for legal reasons, Starbucks will not be able to “unilaterally implement changes in stores that have a union.” Clearly if you let the wolf into the fold, you will force us to negotiate and, in the end, you will not be winners.

Elon Musk in open war with the American union of the auto branch

This anti-union sling can be even more virulent within companies whose leaders have not taken up the cause of the Democratic Party. This is the case at Amazon. There we can speak of open war, where everyone accuses himself of the worst evils. Same with Tesla.

Elon Musk hates unions. In 2018, he even published a tweet in which he threatened to deprive employees who unionized of their stock options.

And even today he accuses the American auto industry union of embezzling workers’ money, of stealing millions from them when he can make them millionaires.

This idea that it would be in the interests of employees to leave the unions out of the company is a recurring source of controversy across the Atlantic. Last December, five economists commissioned by the Economic Policy Institute tried to settle the debate by compiling several types of data. The results of their study can be viewed online.

In summary, we discover that the higher the level of unionization, the more employees benefit from favorable working conditions and remuneration. And to quote for example, a difference of 40% in the average level of minimum wage. The latter reaching 8.10 dollars per hour in the 17 least unionized states, including Texas and Florida, against 11.40 dollars in the 17 most unionized states where we find California but also the Illinois and Minnesota.

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