First Apple store in the U.S. unionizes in yet another labor victory
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- First Apple store in the U.S. unionizes in yet another labor victory.
- What’s the story?
Employees of an Apple sales outlet in Towson, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland, voted to unionize in June 2022 to become the Big Tech company’s first unionized store in the U.S. This is part of a larger movement across the country, with workers at many companies like Amazon, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s expressing their interest in joining a union.
- “We’re standing up to make a better life for ourselves and our family that we feel we deserve and I think all workers deserve. We love our work extremely, we just want to have a say in the things that affect us,” – Onye Igwulu, Apple employee in Towson.
- “People are stressed out, Covid has heightened a lot of things, whether it’s positive or negative, we see that on a daily basis. And we do want to be compensated for that work that we’re putting in,” - Eric Brown, Apple employee in Towson.
- Voice in the workplace
In August 2021, a group of 15 workers banded together to launch AppleToo, a website modelled on the #MeToo movement. The idea was to gather reports from workers at all levels of the company who had experienced discrimination or harassment. Within a few months, they had gathered about 500 stories.
- Union details
In May 2022, a group of workers set up a union named Apple Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (AppleCore) affiliated with the International Organization of Mechanists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), a national union representing around 300,000 workers. Workers at three stores: Atlanta; Grand Central Station, New York; and Louisville, Kentucky, announced union organizing campaigns.
- Union busting
Shortly after the news of the union campaigns became public, Apple announced a wage increase from $20 to $22 per hour. Workers say that the company hired a union avoidance law firm to anti-union presentations. Workers at the Atlanta store withdrew their petition, citing intimidation by management.
- “Instead of living up to those values, and embracing the opportunity to empower us to act in the best interest of our stores, Apple’s corporate executives hired an outside third-party law firm with no understanding or interest in our credo or values to intervene and create an environment of fear and coercion,” – Derrick Bowles, Apple employee & organizer in Atlanta.
The first store to hold a vote was Towson on June 18, 2022, where workers voted 65-33 to unionize. Their success has gone viral - employees from over 20 of 272 Apple sales outlets across the U.S. have shown an interest in doing the same.
- “I applaud the courage displayed by Core members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory. They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election.” – Robert Martinez, IAM’s international president.
- Company Response
After the successful union vote was announced, Apple responded that it had “nothing to add at this time.”
Text by Elena Rogozenska. Design by Elisa Emch. Layout: Paula Reisdorf.