Apple workers in Maryland vote to unionize

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Apple workers in Towson, Maryland, voted on Saturday to join a union, becoming the first of the tech giant’s U.S. retail stores to do so.

The vote means workers at the store plan to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers once a contract is ratified. Saturday night’s initial tally was 65-33, and the official tally was pending.

The vote is part of a wave of organizing sweeping the country as workers increasingly band together to demand higher wages, better benefits and more bargaining power with their employers during the pandemic. In New York, Amazon’s first warehouse voted to form a union in the spring. Dozens of Starbucks stores across the country have unionized, and labor movements have taken hold at outdoor retailer REI and video game maker Raven Software.

Apple Store in Maryland becomes third to launch labor campaign

Workers at at least two other Apple stores are trying to organize, including a store in New York and one in Atlanta, which became the first place workers filed documents with the National Labor Relations Board. But the Communications Workers of America withdrew its demand for an election there last month, saying in a statement that “Apple’s repeated violations of state labor relations law have made a free and fair election impossible.”

At the time, the organizing group sent a message to workers at the store, saying it would reset and “carry on with this fight”.

Several companies, including Amazon and Apple, have been accused this year of “union busting” or employing tactics to discourage or intimidate workers from joining a union. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Employees at the Apple Store in New York this year said some workers were taken out by managers and gave a speech about the pitfalls of unionization there. In meetings, officials warned that unionizing would mean the loss of benefits such as the ability to take stints at Apple headquarters.

From Amazon to Apple, tech giants turn to old-fashioned union busting

Apple, which has more than 270 outlets nationwide, referred to a previous comment it made about organizing efforts.

“We are blessed with incredible members of the retail team and deeply appreciate all they bring to Apple,” spokesman Josh Lipton said in a statement ahead of the vote. “We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full-time and part-time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, grants annual shares and many other benefits.”

Atlanta’s Apple Store is the first to file a case to form a union

Towson workers told the Washington Post last month they hope forming a union will give them a seat at the table on hours, wages, coronavirus safety measures and more. Some said Apple had been too slow to raise salaries and that the company needed to give individual stores more control over their scheduling systems, rather than having one corporate office control most of it.

“I always had the intuition that I was giving more value than I was getting compensated, and that’s what Covid helped me unpack: how much anxiety I had about it,” said Billy Jarboe, Apple employee and labor organizer, at the Post at the time. .

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