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Apple Store employees in a Baltimore suburb became the tech giant’s first retail workers to voted to unionize by a nearly 2-to-1 margin Saturday.
Staff at the store in Towson, Maryland, now joining a growing push across U.S. retail, service and tech industries to organize for greater labor protections.
The team at the Towson store voted 65-33 to seek entry into the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the union’s announcement said.
They’re seeking additional rights to those afforded by their existing contracts, with workers filmed cheering happily after the vote was counted.
The Machinists and the Apple employees who wanted to join said they had sent Apple CEO Tim Cook notice last month that they were seeking to organize a union, and that their driving motivation was to seek ‘rights we do not currently have.’
‘This is something we do not to go against or create conflict with our management,’ they wrote.
Apple Store employees in a Baltimore suburb celebrate after they voted to unionize by a nearly 2-to-1 margin Saturday
Apple retail workers at a store (above) in Towson, Maryland, voted 65-33 to seek entry into the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
An Apple spokesperson said by email the company had ‘nothing to add at this time.’
Union organizing in a variety of fields has gained momentum recently after decades of decline in U.S. union membership.
Organizers have worked to establish unions at companies including Amazon, Starbucks, outdoors retailer REI and Google parent company Alphabet.
Saturday’s vote could not immediately be confirmed with the National Labor Relations Board, which would have to certify the outcome. An NLRB spokesperson referred initial queries about the vote to the board’s regional office, which was closed late Saturday.
The vote in Towson comes after a group of employees called AppleCORE (Coalition of Organized Retail Employees) campaigned for unionization, demanding more input on wages, hours and safety measures.
‘We did it Towson! We won our union vote! Thanks to all who worked so hard and all who supported! Now we celebrate… Tomorrow we keep organizing,’ AppleCORE tweeted.
‘I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory,’ said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. in the statement. ‘They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election.’
Apple workers in Towson celebrate after the vote to unionize succeeded
Apple employees who wanted to join said they had sent Apple CEO Tim Cook (above) notice last month that they were seeking to organize a union
Martinez called on Apple to respect the election results and to let the unionizing employees fast-track efforts to secure a contract at the Towson location.
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, praised the Apple workers for their vote, tweeting: ‘What we are seeing right now is a historic uprising of working class Americans telling the corporate elite that they have to end their greed.’
It remained unclear what steps would follow the vote in Towson. Labor experts say it’s common for employers to drag out the bargaining process in an effort to take the wind out of union campaigns.
The IAM bills itself as one of the largest and most diverse industrial trade unions in North America, representing approximately 600,000 active and retired members in the aerospace, defense, airlines, railroad, transit, healthcare, automotive, and other industries.
Apple workers in Atlanta who were seeking to unionize withdrew their request last month, claiming intimidation.
Some current and former Apple workers last year began criticizing the company’s working conditions online, using the hashtag #AppleToo.
The Apple store unionization comes against a backdrop of other labor organizing nationwide – some of them rebuffed.
Amazon workers at a warehouse in New York City voted to unionize in April, the first successful U.S. organizing effort in the retail giant´s history.
However, workers at another Amazon warehouse on Staten Island overwhelmingly rejected a union bid last month.
Meanwhile, Starbucks workers at dozens of U.S. stores have voted to unionize in recent months, after two of the coffee chain’s stores in Buffalo, New York, voted to unionize late last year.
Many unionization efforts have been led by young workers in their 20s and even in their teens.
A group of Google engineers and other workers formed the Alphabet Workers Union last year, which represents around 800 Google employees and is run by five people who are under 35.