An employee sells Apple iPhones as a customer shop in an Apple Store.
Mike Segar | Reuters
Workers at an Apple store in Towson, Maryland, voted to join a union on Saturday, a significant achievement for organized labor that could encourage workers at other Apple stores to unionize. The Towson Store is the first unionized Apple store in the United States
The vote is a defeat for Apple, which has opposed union organizing efforts, and could spur workers at the company’s other retail locations to move forward with organizing.
The balance was 65 yes votes and 33 no votes. Around 110 employees were eligible to vote to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Voting began Wednesday and ran through Saturday night.
“We did it, Towson! We won our union vote! Thanks to everyone who worked so hard and supported everyone!” Towson organizers tweeted.
The National Labor Relations Board has yet to confirm the votes. This can take about a week. According to the NLRB, once the vote is confirmed, Apple will have to negotiate with the union over working conditions.
The Towson store is not one of Apple’s so-called “flagship” stores in high-traffic areas of major cities. It’s a smaller place in a mall.
Apple management caught the store’s attention as soon as workers announced plans to form a union. Apple’s director of retail and human resources, Deirdre O’Brien, visited the site in May. A recorded message from O’Brien, distributed to employees after union campaigns went public, discouraged retail workers from joining unions, saying it would make it harder for Apple to respond to workers’ concerns. She said the unions have no obligation to the company’s employees.
Workers are looking for more input on wages and working conditions, e.g. B. How the shops deal with the safety of Covid and other processes.
“To be clear, the decision to form a union is about giving us, as workers, access to rights that we don’t currently have,” say Towson organizers written in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The Towson store is one of several Apple locations that have publicly announced union campaigns, and other retail organizers in other locations are closely monitoring the results. Two busy, high-volume stores in New York, the Grand Central Terminal and World Trade Center locations, have signaled they are unionizing but have yet to get to the official voting stage.
A store in Atlanta, Georgia was due to hold an election earlier this month, which was postponed indefinitely after the Communication Workers of America union claimed Apple intimidated its employees. Stores in Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee are also included, according to NBC News.
The Apple Retail Union at the Towson store is unlikely to jeopardize Apple’s core business model of selling devices and services. Although Apple Stores are an important channel for selling products, Apple also sells through its website and retail partners such as carriers. Apple’s hourly workforce is smaller than other companies like Amazon and Starbucks, which are currently facing waves of union campaigns.
Apple is one of the most profitable companies in the world. The company reported worldwide sales of over $365 billion in 2021 and says its US retail workers make at least $22 an hour.