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Apple to train managers on 'union awareness' (exclusive)

Apple tomorrow is holding a training course on "union awareness" for managers at one of the company's off-site logistical facilities, a move that comes some six months after union efforts in its retail stores.

Corrected on November 8 at 3:30 p.m. PT to reflect that the training program is not related to Apple's retail stores. This story has been changed throughout to reflect that.
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Kent German/CNET

Apple is training some of its managers how to manage worker unions, CNET has learned.

In an internal document obtained by CNET, the company posted information about a training course on the topic, which takes place tomorrow morning and is required to be taken by all new managers at one of the company's off-site logistical centers.

"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," the training description reads. "This is a mandatory class for all new managers, and is required biannually for all managers."

The posting adds that the course "is a great opportunity to meet our legal team and ask any questions you may have."

A source close to the matter told CNET that the training program is not, in fact, for managers at Apple's retail stores, but rather a program targeted at one of the company's off-site operations, and the managers who are a part of that business group. It's not clear whether employees at the off-site operation are attempting or have attempted to unionize.

An Apple representative declined to comment.

While unrelated, the move comes about six months after an employee-driven effort to unionize Apple's retail workers. That store-by-store effort, called the Apple Retail Workers Union, cited Apple for providing poor compensation to its part-time employees, as well as calling attention to alleged deficiencies in Apple's "break schedules, training opportunities," and "the selection and hiring process for internal candidates for open positions."

So far, that's been focused on Apple's San Francisco store, as well as one of the company's stores in Munich, Germany.

According to Apple's recently filed annual report, the company employs approximately 64,400 full-time equivalent employees, and has another 2,900 full-time equivalent employees who are temporary or working on contract.

A union holds the potential to drive up Apple's operating costs, if employees are able to successfully negotiate increases to pay and benefits. Having a union in the first place grants them the ability to set up those negotiations but does not guarantee that Apple would agree to any changes.