Apple store workers vote to form their first US union
Of the 110 employees at the Towson, Maryland shop, 65 voted in favor and 33 against.
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - A majority of employees at a US Apple store have voted to form a union, a first for the tech giant, which has so far tried to discourage unionizing attempts.
Of the 110 employees at the Towson, Maryland shop, 65 voted in favor and 33 against, according to a live count broadcast Saturday by the federal agency overseeing the vote.
The vote comes after a group of employees called AppleCORE (Coalition of Organized Retail Employees) campaigned for unionization.
"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.
They are demanding a say in deciding on wages, hours and safety measures.
Saturday’s result means that the shop’s employees, who have been voting since Wednesday, should form their own branch of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union, once the agency has certified the results.
IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr said he applauded the workers’ "courage."
"They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election. I ask Apple CEO Tim Cook to respect the election results and fast-track a first contract for the dedicated IAM CORE Apple employees in Towson," he said in a statement.
"This victory shows the growing demand for unions at Apple stores and different industries across our nation."
It was not the first time employees at an Apple store have tried to unionize, but it was the first attempt that resulted in a vote.
Apple’s director of distribution and human resources, Deirdre O’Brien, visited the shop in May to address employees.
"I want to start out by saying it’s your right to join a union, but it’s equally your right not to join a union," O’Brien said, according to audio published by Vice.
"If you’re faced with that decision, I want to encourage you to consult a wide range of people and sources to understand what it could be like to work at Apple under a collective bargaining agreement."
She said that the presence of an intermediary would complicate relations between Apple and its employees.
The Silicon Valley giant told AFP it was "declining to comment" on the news.
Unions, on the decline for decades, have won several symbolic victories in the United States in recent months, with President Joe Biden voicing his support.
After a union was formed at two Starbucks coffee shops in December in the northern city of Buffalo, employees at more than 160 of the chain’s locations have filed for similar votes.
At Amazon, employees at a New York warehouse surprised everyone in early April by voting overwhelmingly to form a union, a first for the online retail colossus in the United States.
But the company has asked for the result to be cancelled and a second vote to be held.