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Apple To Audit Its Labor Practices

A new Apple filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reflects its intention to audit its human rights policy and workers' rights. The company said, "We plan to conduct an assessment on Apple's efforts to comply with its Human Rights Policy as it relates to workers' freedom of association and collective bargaining rights" by the end of 2023.

About four months ago, an investor coalition submitted a shareholder proposal asking the company to conduct this audit. The coalition included five New York City pension funds and controls approximately 53 million Apple shares. The company allegedly violated workers' labor rights as some store employees tried to unionize. Apple agreed to hire a third-party firm to conduct the assessment. The coalition requested Apple select a firm with expertise in labor rights that does not advise companies on avoiding unionization. Apple agreed to publish a report related to the assessment.

Last May, Apple raised its minimum wage from $20 to $22 per hour, which some workers perceived as an effort to suppress union organizing efforts. Many workers said they like their jobs but want better pay, more input into scheduling, and more transparency on job assignments and promotions. In response to efforts to unionize at some stores, Employees claim Apple illegally monitored them, prohibited union fliers, interrogated and threatened them about union activities, and warned workers about the futility of their efforts. The National Labor Relations Board issued formal complaints for two of these claims. Apple expressed its disagreement with the complaints and said it looks forward to defending itself. A similar coalition of investors has proposed an audit for Starbucks, which is also seeing employee efforts to unionize.