Cleaver calls for investigation into Country Club Plaza Apple Store over worker rights

Donovan, Derek/KansasCity

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, has called for an National Labor Relations Board investigation into an Apple Store in Country Club Plaza amid allegation that the store fired five people who were attempting to organize a union.

In a letter coauthored with Rep. Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat from Texas, the lawmakers called for an investigation into the Country Club Plaza store and a store in Houston Texas. The Communications Workers of America filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB on March 28.

“The NLRB already found Apple infringed upon worker rights earlier this year, and we are concerned about this recurring pattern,” Cleaver and Garcia wrote. “We respectfully request the NLRB thoroughly investigate these serious allegations.”

The National Labor Relations Board already has a case open to investigate the allegations. The NLRB issued a ruling against Apple in April that the company broke federal law with policies that discouraged employees from unionizing.

In Kansas City, the former employees said they were fired for being late and calling out of shifts. One worker was disciplined for being an average of 1 minute late for their shift, according to the letter. The workers were fired for their attendance, but said it was rare before the union drive started for anyone to be fired for that reason.

“Apple management said I was fired for a typo in my timesheet that I had documented and tried to correct,” said D’lite Xiong, a former Kansas City, Mo., Apple retail worker, in a March press release by the Communications Workers of America. “Yet, it is clear the real reason I was fired was for exercising my right to organize and win a protected voice on the job.”

There have been increasing unionization efforts at high profile companies in recent years, including Amazon and Starbucks. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions brought in former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to testify about his former company’s labor practices last month, which resulted in a showdown with Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Democrat who chairs the committee.