Apple Retail Employees to Form Union?

This post is part of a series on Stakeholder Engagement sponsored by Jurat Software.

Seeds are being planted by employees of Apple Retail to form a union.  This union push coincides with the Apple Retail Stores tenth anniversary.  Why is there a push for unionization?  Are employee stakeholders being engaged by management?  Should employees Apple Retail form a union to resolve their issues?

A Push for Unionization
In a Reuters interview, part-time Apple Retail employee Cory Moll says, “The core issues definitely involve compensation, pay, benefits.”  These issues are similar to many other calls for unionization.

Moll is also said to be the founder of the  The bare-bonesApple Retail Workers Union website first quotes the Apple mantra, “At Apple, our most important resource, our soul, is our people.”

Beneath the mantra is a statement from the website itself, “Our time has come,” indicating a move towards employee unionization.  Moll hopes the website can facilitate connecting with other employees to come forward and organize.

Are Stakeholders Being Engaged?
The urge for unionization may serve as a cautionary tale of the need for Apple Retail (or any company) to employ employee engagement.

Stakeholder engagement is a crucial part of any organization it’s a way to learn about stakeholder needs and desires. A company’s own employees are one of the most important stakeholders.

It’s also a way for a company to optimize operations by finding out what is and what is not working with their stakeholders.   If employees of Apple Retail felt adequately engaged, perhaps their would be no threat of unionization.

To Unionize or Not?
On the one hand, there is the pro-union position.  Unions are seen as the best conduit to settle differences between labor and management.

On other hand, there is the anti-union position.  In this case, unions are seen as a business within itself, helping its own interests rather than truly finding common ground between employees and management.

But the question remains, is forming or even joining an established union the best way to engage Apple Retail Store management?  Stakeholder engagement is a two-way street.  Just as management must engage its employee stakeholders, employees must engage its management stakeholders.  Unions can be seen as a help or hindrance to this engagement process.

Moll suggests that unionization is still in its early stages.  “There’s definitely no call to action yet. Right now what I hope to gain is to get people to start talking about it and get comfortable with it.”  Suffice it to say, if there is no comfort in the idea of an Apple Retail employee union, no watering of these union seeds will be necessary.  If there is strong support, we may have another union to add to the list.

If you were to advise Moll and the nascent Apple Retail Workers Union, what would you suggest?  Has unionization worked well in other sectors?  Is unionization the answer to quell the issues of Apple Retail employee “compensation, pay, and benefits?”  What other ways can Apple Retail engage employees or employees engage management?

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Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

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