June 18, 2022

Apple employees in Maryland vote to unionize, a first for the tech giant in U.S.

Employees of an Apple store in Towson, Maryland, have voted in favor of union representation, a first for the tech giant in the United States.

A majority of store employees voted to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, or IAM, according to the union.

The vote tally, which was announced Saturday, was 65-33 according to IAM.

The mall-based store outside of Baltimore is the first Apple location in the U.S. to unionize.

The IAM on Saturday described the vote as one for history as workers seek representation, often unsuccessfully, in the tech field.

“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.

“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.

The Towson Town Center store employees recently paired up with the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees to send a letter to Cook “informing him of the decision to organize,” according to the union’s statement.

The letter implores Cook not to use the resources of one of the world’s most valuable companies to “engage in an anti-union campaign to dissuade us.”

Apple has so far opposed unionization of its stores. The company had no comment about the vote.

Apple will be required to bargain with the union after the National Labor Relations Board certifies the votes.

“We did it Towson!” local organizers tweeted Saturday. “We won our union vote! Thanks to all who worked so hard and all who supported!”

Amid a new wave of organizing among some tech and food service workers, Martinez argued there’s a “growing demand” for unions at Apple stores.

In April, workers at the company’s store in Atlanta announced their intention to hold a union election. The union, Communications Workers of America, later withdrew its request for a vote.

Tiawana Dugger in front of the Apple store where she works in Towson, Maryland in June.
Tiawana Dugger in front of the Apple store where she works in Towson, Maryland in June. Valerie Plesch for NBC News

In March, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, overwhelmingly approved union status , but the company is challenging the results.

For the year 2021, Amazon spent more than $4.2 million on labor consultants. There’s no U.S. Department of Labor record of Apple spending on such consultants in 2021.

In 2021, workers at a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, voted in favor of joining a local of the Service Employees International Union.

The union movement appears to have fresh momentum as tech, service and gig workers face daunted cost of living in major cities.

Heidi Shierholz, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank, said last year that stagnant wages and rising income inequality have made unions more appealing.

Companies have often fought back by arguing a union-free job provides more flexibility, more gigs and more labor competition that can boost pay.

Cristian Santana contributed.

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