Is Apple Behaving Like Walmart?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has started planning how to respond if its retail employees unionize, reports CNET.  The company posted information about a training course on union awareness required for all new store managers. Is this a page out of Walmart’s (NYSE:WMT) corporate strategy to keep labor costs in check?

The training description reads, “This course is intended to provide managers with a practical understanding of how unions affect the workplace, how and why employees organize, and the legal do’s and don’ts of dealing with unions.  This is a mandatory class for all new managers, and is required biannually for all managers.”  They added the course “is a great opportunity to meet our legal team and ask any questions you may have.”

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Six months ago, Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) retail employees tried to unionize.  The Apple (NASDAQ:AAPLRetail Workers Union accused Apple of giving part time employees poor compensation and insufficient “break schedules, training opportunities,” and “the selection and hiring process for internal candidates for open positions.”

A retail union could potentially increase Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPLoperating costs if they are successful with pay increases and more benefits.  Though having a union would not guarantee Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)would make changes, the move gives the union the ability to set up negotiations.  Apple (NASDAQ:AAPLhas let employees know they oppose a union.

Union expert Jay Krupin told CNET, “If a union represents the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPLretail employees, it just means they sit down across the table, and if Apple is doing what they’re doing now, which is being a tremendously successful retailer, there’s very little a union’s going to be able to do.”

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPLretail empire has become an important part of the company’s success in it’s 10 years of existence. Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL fiscal 2011 posted net sales of $14.12 billion from its stores, a 44 percent increase from the last year. Glassdoor.com, a job tracking service, ranked Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL as one of the top 50 best places to work — an award Apple (NASDAQ:AAPLhas received three years in a row.

Interestingly, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPLhas confessed that it’s easier to get a job at its 350 global corporate headquarters than one of its retail stores.

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