An employee arranges Apple’s iPhones as customers shop at an Apple store.
Mike Segar | Reuters
Staff at a Apple stores in Towson, Maryland voted Saturday to join a union, a remarkable achievement for organized labor. The Towson Store Is The First Unified Apple Store In The US
The vote was a setback for Apple, which has opposed consolidation efforts and could energize workers at the company’s other retail locations to move forward with the organization.
The vote count had 65 votes in favor and 33 votes against. About 110 employees were eligible to vote to join the International Association of Aerospace Engineers and Workers. Voting begins on Wednesday and runs through Saturday night.
“We made Towson! We won the union vote! Thank you to everyone who worked so hard and everyone who supported!” Towson Organizing Committee tweeted.
The National Labor Relations Board still needs to confirm the votes. That could take about a week. According to the NLRB, Apple was forced to negotiate with the union about working conditions after the vote was certified.
The Towson Store is not one of Apple’s so-called “flagship” stores in high-traffic areas in major cities. It’s a smaller location inside a mall.
The store received interest from Apple management soon after workers announced the merger plan. Apple’s head of retail and human resources, Deirdre O’Brien, visited the location in May. One Recorded message from O’Brien distributed to employees after public union campaigns discouraged retail employees from unionizing, saying doing so would make it difficult for Apple to respond to employee concerns. She said unions are not committed to company employees.
Workers are looking for more input on wages and working conditions, like how stores handle Covid safety and other operations.
“Just to be clear, the decision to form a union is up to us as workers have access to rights we don’t currently have,” organizer Towson said. write in a letter for Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The Towson store is one of a number of Apple locations that have publicly announced union runs, and other retail organizers at other locations are closely monitoring its results. Two high-traffic stores in New York, Grand Central Terminal and World Trade Center locations, have signaled that they are merging, but have yet to move to the stage of a formal vote. .
An Atlanta, Georgia store that was scheduled to hold an election earlier this month was delayed indefinitely after the union, Media Workers of America, alleged that Apple threaten its employees. Stores in Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee are also in the process of organizing, according to NBC News.
Apple’s retail alliance at the Towson store is unlikely to jeopardize Apple’s core business model of selling devices and services. While Apple stores are a primary channel for selling products, Apple also sells through its website and retail partners such as carriers. Apple’s hourly workforce is less than other companies are currently facing wave of union promotionlike Amazon and Starbucks.
Apple is one of the most profitable companies in the world. It reported more than $365 billion in global sales in 2021, and says its retail employees in the US make at least $22 an hour.