An employee arranges Apple iPhones as a customer store in an Apple store.
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Employees of an Apple store in Towson, Maryland, voted Saturday to join a union, a significant achievement for organized labor that can encourage employees of other Apple stores to join the union. The Towson store is the first unionized Apple store in the United States
The vote is a defeat for Apple, which has opposed union work, and could give energy to workers at the company̵[ads1]7;s other retail outlets to move forward with organization.
The number was 65 in favor and 33 against. About 110 employees were eligible to vote to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Voting started on Wednesday and lasted until Saturday night.
“We did it Towson! We won our union! Thanks to everyone who worked so hard and everyone who supported!” Towson organizers twitret.
The National Labor Relations Board still needs to certify the votes. It can take around a week. Apple is required to negotiate with the union on working conditions after the vote is certified, according to the NLRB.
The Towson store is not one of Apple’s so-called “flagship” stores in areas with heavy traffic in big cities. It is a smaller place inside a mall.
The store received attention from the Apple management as soon as the workers announced plans to organize. Apple’s head of retail and HR, Deirdre O’Brien, visited the site in May. A recorded message from O’Brien distributed to employees after union campaigns were announced discouraged retail workers from joining unions, saying it would make it harder for Apple to respond to employee concerns. She said the unions are not committed to the company’s employees.
Workers are seeking more input on pay and working conditions, such as how stores handle Covid security and other operations.
“To be clear, the decision to form a union is about us as workers gaining access to rights we do not currently have,” the Towson organizers wrote in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The Towson Store is one of several Apple locations that have publicly announced unions, and other retailers elsewhere are keeping a close eye on the results. Two high-volume stores in New York, the Grand Central Terminal and the World Trade Center, have signaled that they are joining unions, but have not yet reached the stage of an official vote.
A store in Atlanta, Georgia, was scheduled to have an election earlier this month that was postponed indefinitely after the Communication Workers of America union claimed that Apple was intimidating its employees. Stores in Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee are also getting organized, according to NBC News.
The Apple Retailers Association in the Towson Store is unlikely to jeopardize Apple’s core business model for selling devices and services. Although Apple stores are a key channel for selling products, Apple also sells through its website and retail partners as carriers. Apple’s hourly workforce is smaller than other companies currently facing waves of unions, such as Amazon and Starbucks.
Apple is one of the most profitable companies in the world. It reported over $ 365 billion in global sales in 2021, and says retail employees in the United States earn at least $ 22 an hour.