After Amazon and Starbucks, it’s Apple’s turn to accept the creation of a union in one of its branches in the United States. A first for the tech giant, which has so far tried to discourage unionization attempts. Of the 110 employees of the Apple Store in Towson, Maryland, 65 voted in favor and 33 against, according to the count broadcast live Saturday, June 18 by the federal agency responsible for supervising the ballot.
“We did it Towson! We won ! Thank you to everyone who worked hard and supported us! », reacted on Twitter the account of AppleCORE (Coalition of Apple distribution employees), as the employees who led the campaign were baptized. They demand a voice in deciding salaries, hours and safety measures. “Today we are celebrating with the association of machinists. Tomorrow we will continue the mobilization”they added.
We did it Towson! We won our union vote! Thanks to all who worked so hard and all who supported! Now we celebrate w… https://t.co/0M0wAZdHIa
Saturday’s result means workers at the store, who had been called to vote since Wednesday, should form their branch of the IAM union, once the agency certifies the results.
Attempts to discourage
It wasn’t the first Apple Store to try to unionize, but it was the first attempt that resulted in a vote. Apple’s director of distribution and human resources, Deirdre O’Brien, had visited the store in May to address employees. “It’s your right to join a union, but it’s also your right not to join a union”she had told them, according to an audio clip published by the Vice site.
She had assured that the presence of an intermediary would complicate the relationship between Apple and its employees. “I am concerned that an organization will find itself in the middle of our relationship, an organization that does not have a deep understanding of Apple and our business”she said again. “And above all, an organization which in my opinion does not share our commitment to you”. The Californian group, contacted by AFP, refused to comment on the news.
The IAM union denounced, upstream, attempts to discourage employees from voting ” yes “ to unionization. In a video made by More Perfect Uniona pro-union outlet, activists from AppleCORE expressed their ” disgust “ in the face of meetings that seemed designed to deter them. “We were told ‘Apple provides many benefits, you should be grateful'”says one of them. “I applaud the courage shown by the members of CORE (…) to achieve this historic victory.commented Robert Martinez, the president of IAM International, in a press release from the union.
A booming trade unionism
“They made a huge sacrifice for millions of Apple employees nationwide, all of whom watched this election”, he continued, saying that this vote is a sign of the growing demand for unions in Apple stores and other industries. He also called on Tim Cook, the boss of the iPhone maker, to respect the result and quickly adopt a collective agreement with the new union branch.
On the decline for several decades, the unions have won several symbolic victories in the United States in recent months, starting with the explicit support of Joe Biden. The creation of the first union in a Starbucks coffee directly managed by the chain in the United States in December aroused enthusiasm while employees, often young and educated, mobilized in NGOs, universities, museums, media.
At Amazon, the employees of a New York warehouse created a surprise in early April by voting by majority in favor of the creation of a union, a first for the group in the United States. But this isolated victory (after two failures in Alabama and before another failure in a sorting center in New York) has so far not translated into substantive negotiations. The company asked for this result to be annulled and for a second ballot to be held, on the grounds, in particular, that the union allegedly intimidated the employees into voting ” yes “.
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