Union groups, investors demand review of workers rights at Apple

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By Ross Kerber

(Reuters) – Labor groups and investors have filed a shareholder proposal asking Apple Inc to review how it handles workers’ rights, hoping to build on recent momentum to unite workers in the iPhone maker’s stores .

The proposal, submitted by a group including SOC Investment Group, an adviser to union pension funds and a branch of the Service Employees International Union, accuses Apple of an “apparent mismatch” between its public commitments to issues such as freedom of association and allegations that it has tried to unfairly deter union organizing.

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“If a company’s values ​​and behavior diverge, that’s a problem,” said Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of the SOC.

An Apple representative declined to comment.

The company is scheduled to hold an event on Wednesday where it is expected to introduce new iPhones.

Other proposers of the proposal include New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, who oversees pension funds, Trillium Asset Management and Parnassus Investments.

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Apple is one of the US companies involved in union activity, along with Starbucks Corp and Amazon Inc.

Workers at an Apple store in Maryland voted to unionize in June, and efforts are underway in other states.

Shareholder proposals for Apple’s 2023 annual meeting are due on September 8.

At this year’s meeting on March 4, two resolutions won a majority of votes, including one asking Apple to conduct a civil rights audit that involved some of the same unionized investors.

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The other successful resolution asked Apple to review its use of nondisclosure clauses and other agreements that restrict employee opinions.

Filer Kristin Hull, chief executive officer of Nia Impact Capital, said the company has been unable to speak to Apple’s board since then. Nia has submitted a new resolution for 2023 to make board members more accessible.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston, additional reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco, editing by Chris Reese)

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