Apple workers at the Maryland Store vote to unite unions, the first of its kind in the US

Apple employees at a Baltimore-area store have voted to join a union, making it the first of the company’s 270-plus stores in the United States to join a trend in labor regulation sweeping across retailers, restaurants and technology companies.

The result, announced Saturday by the National Labor Relations Board, provides a foothold for an emerging movement among Apple retail employees who want a greater voice over wages and Covid-19 policies. Employees of more than two dozen Apple Stores have expressed their desire to form unions in recent months, union leaders said.

In the election, 65 employees of an Apple Store in Towson, Maryland, voted in favor of representation by the union, known as the Apple Alliance of Organized Retail Employees, while 33 voted against. It will be part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, an industry union that represents more than 300,000 employees.

“I applaud the courage shown by the CORE members at the Apple Store in Tucson in achieving this historic victory,” Robert Martinez Jr., president of IAM International, said in a statement. “They have made tremendous sacrifices for the thousands of Apple employees across the country who have been observing this election.”

Tyra Ridder, a technical specialist who has worked at the Towson store for just over six months, said she was “delighted” with the result and hoped the union would help increase workers’ compensation; Store schedule fixation, which has been strained by recent Covid-19 cases; Facilitating the advancement of workers within the company.

“We love our jobs. We just want to see them do a better job,” Ms. Reader said.

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The result is a blow to Apple’s campaign to reduce union incentives by saying it pays more than many retailers and provides a range of benefits, including health care and stock grants. Last month, it raised initial wages for retail employees to $22 an hour, from $20, and released a video of Deirdre O’Brien, who leads Apple retail sales, warning employees that joining a union could hurt the company’s business.

Apple declined to comment.

Employees in Tucson said in a video before the union vote that Apple’s anti-union campaign was “bad” and included management telling workers that unions once banned black employees from joining their ranks. In the weeks leading up to the vote, Ms. O’Brien visited the store and thanked everyone for their hard work.

Soon after, employees said their managers began encouraging employees to voice their concerns in meetings and help come up with solutions to their grievances. Eric Brown, a Towson employee active in the union’s efforts, said they also began attracting employees to one-on-one meetings where managers highlighted the cost of union dues.

Earlier this month, employees at an Atlanta store abandoned a planned election when union support waned after Apple’s moves to raise wages and highlight the benefits it offers. Atlanta union regulators have filed a formal indictment with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing Apple of requiring workers to listen to anti-union messages during mandatory meetings. The board has not yet decided whether the charge is merited.

Ms. Reader said workers in Atlanta helped prepare union supporters at the Towson store to defuse the company’s talking points. she said, citing The company’s suggestions that employees may lose certain benefits While negotiating the contract if they are united.

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“For that to happen, the majority of us would have to agree,” Ms Reeder added. “I don’t think any of us would agree to lose something we love so much, which benefits us.”

At Starbucks, one of the companies where organizers have gained the most momentum, employees Credited in a vote for regulation at a store in Buffalo while helping incentivize other stores to apply for union elections. Since that December vote, more than 150 of the 9,000 corporate-owned stores in the United States have voted to create unions, according to the NLRB.

Workers in the later unionized stores reached out to employees in Buffalo for advice on how to navigate the process.

“Workers gain attention and courage if workers win elsewhere,” said William Gold, a Stanford University law professor and author of Building Employment: Wars, Depression, and Pandemic. “Many are watching to see: Can the workers succeed? Will they unite together? If the answer is in the affirmative, it will encourage other workers to take a step towards collective bargaining.”

The ability of workers to win the contract may stop About whether the campaign spreads to other stores. Union supporters at Starbucks have said that one of their biggest sources of influence over the company is the fact that they continue to win elections across the country.

Apple employees also organize at the Grand Central Terminal store in New York and a store in Louisville, Ky. These stores are building support before they ask for an election. Organizers in Atlanta said they plan to revive their election in the future.

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