This vote is part of an organizing wave that is flooding the nation as workers unite more and more to demand higher pay, better benefits and greater impact on negotiations with their employers during the pandemic. In New York, Amazon’s first warehouse voted to form an alliance in the spring. Dozens of Starbucks stores across the country have merged, with labor movements targeting REI open-air retailers and video game maker Raven Software.
Workers at at least two other Apple stores are trying to organize, including a store in New York and one in Atlanta that became the first place where workers submitted documents to the National Labor Relations Council. But America’s communications workers withdrew their call for elections there last month, saying in a statement that “repeated violations of the National Labor Law have made free and fair elections impossible.”
At that time, the organizing group sent a message to the workers in the store, saying that it would be zero and “this fight will continue.”
Several companies, including Amazon and Apple, have been accused this year of “breaking unions” or using tactics to discourage or intimidate workers into joining unions. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Employees of the Apple Store in New York said this year that some workers have been fired by managers and have spoken out about union traps there. During meetings, managers warned that joining a union would mean losing an advantage such as the ability to work at Apple’s corporate headquarters.
Apple, which has more than 270 stores in the country, cited an earlier comment on the union’s efforts.
“We are lucky to have amazing members of the retail team and we deeply appreciate everything they bring to Apple,” spokesman Josh Lipton said in a statement before the vote. “We are pleased to offer very strong compensations and benefits for full-time and part-time employees, including health care, refund of tuition fees, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual share subsidies and many other benefits.
Towson workers told The Washington Post last month that they hoped forming a union would give them a seat on the schedule for pay, pay, coronavirus safety measures and more. Some said Apple was too slow to increase pay and that the company should give individual stores more control over their planning systems instead of having a corporate office in control of most of it.
“I’ve always had the intuition that I’m giving more value than I’m getting compensation, and that’s what covid helped me unpack: how worried I was about it,” said Apple employee and union organizer Billy Jarbow. told The Post at the time.