June 21, 2022
Apple workers in the Baltimore area voted to join a union on Saturday, June 18—becoming the first of the tech giant’s U.S. retail stores to do so, reports The Washington Post.
The vote means workers at the Towson, Maryland, store plan to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) once a contract is ratified. Saturday evening’s vote count was 65 to 33—a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
Last month, the workers and IAM sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, outlining their intent to organize as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees — or AppleCore for short.
This vote is part of an organizing wave sweeping the nation—as workers increasingly band together to demand higher pay, better benefits, and more negotiating leverage with their employers during the pandemic. In New York, the first Amazon warehouse voted to form a union in the spring. Dozens of Starbucks stores across the country have unionized
Billy Jarboe, a Towson Apple employee and union organizer, told the Post that Apple’s campaign to undermine the organizing effort “definitely shook people” but that most union backers stayed strong.
“It just feels good to go into a new era of this kind of work, hopefully it creates a spark [and] the other stores can use this momentum,” Jarboe said in a text after the vote concluded on Saturday.
Three Apple employees said the union drive lost some supporters amid a corporate campaign to persuade workers not to organize.
“They got a lot of people to waver … they definitely pulled some people that we thought were originally supporters,” said Eric Brown, who works at the Towson Apple store.
Brown said they were able to overcome those tactics because organizers from an aborted campaign in Atlanta primed them on what to expect. “They let us know what some of the talking points and tactics were going to be, and we were able to let people know some of the things they may try,” he said.
Apple spokesman Josh Lipton declined to comment after the vote.
About 20 Apple workers came to the Towson Town Center on Saturday night, some of whom were in the room during the vote count.
Afterward, IAM spokesperson DeLane Adams said, the group went to the center’s parking garage, clapping and celebrating with members of the IAM who were in attendance.
“I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory,” IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. said in a statement after the vote. “They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election.”
Workers in at least two other Apple Store locations are trying to organize, including at a store in New York; and at one in Atlanta, which became the first location where workers filed documents with the National Labor Relations Board.
But the Communications Workers of America withdrew its request for an election there last month, saying in a statement that Apple’s “repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act 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 “continue this fight.”
Research contact: @washingtonpost