Saturday, December 17, 2022

ASTROTURFING: "Gross, Apple" says CWA labor union as iPhone maker creates fake labor union in Ohio, controlled by Apple management just like its fake app developer association

Another bad apple has been exposed, raising the question of how bad Apple is. Has Apple become the least ethical Big Tech company in history? It is shocking to see in what extremely dishonest behavior Apple engages against the stakeholders it is exploiting: certain categories of employees, and app developers. Apple treats all of them as serfs, and there is an astounding parallel: Apple doesn't want those serfs' voices to be heard and interests to be represented. Just like they believe that only Apple (and not users) should decide what apps to download (and from what monopolistic App Store with its abusive terms) to download, Apple employees shouldn't speak for themselves but instead join a fake union that is just a sock puppet for Apple's management.

There have been other complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over Apple's "union-busting" efforts, some of which are mentioned in CNET's latest article on a Communications Workers of America (CWA) complaint that Bloomberg (paywalled) was first to report:

The complaint form (just a one-pager) is has been published by The Register (PDF) (here's the Register article itself). The "Basis of the Charge" has three parts, and the final one says:

"Creating and soliciting employees to join an employer-created / employer-dominated labor organization as a means of stifling Union activities."

The CWA--which by the way supports Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard because it will faciliate unionization of Activision employees--announced that complaint on Twitter, and retweeted the announcement with a comment: "Gross, Apple."

Gross it is indeed, but it's a pattern that seems familiar. In September, Bloomberg reported that ACT | The App Association--a fake app developers association--receives the vast majority of its funding from Apple and, according to former employees, is simply run by Apple. I only ever attended one ACT event (in Berlin in 2019), and I was the only app developer there. Also, I can't think of any app developer who would benefit from the positions that ACT takes on whatever issue, but on many key questions involving Apple's App Store monopoly abuse, ACT | The App(le) Association works against us.

App developers are to Apple what drivers are to Uber and other "gig economomy" companies. We're not going to be able to unionize, and there are reasons for that, but at least Apple should not let some Washington D.C. lobbyists on its payroll claim to represent us while actually working against us.

The ACT-Apple link is well-known and even the UK Intellectual Property Office has recently acknowledged it in a reply to FOSS Patents. A European Parliament vice president who was arrested this month over corruption charges served on the boards of astroturfing operations that collaborated with ACT and another Apple-funded group, CCIA.

Apple even used ACT to commission a paper by Charles River Associates. And they met with members of EU antitrust and digital policy chief Margrethe Vestager's cabinet, opposing an initiative that can contribute to the fight against climate change.

Given that it looks like the Open App Markets Act (OAMA) may not be passed into law by U.S. Congress during the impending end of the current legislative term, the problem is that Apple's tactics tend to work. Apple stops at nothing to get its way. But the more of this type of conduct gets exposed, the more setbacks Apple will suffer in the legislative arena and in litigation.