Apple Workers at Maryland Store Vote to Unionize
Employees at a Baltimore-area Apple store have voted to unionize, making it the first of Apple's 270-plus stores in the U.S. to join a union. In the election, 65 employees at Apple’s store in Towson, Md., voted in favor of being represented by the union, known as the Apple Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE), while 33 voted against. It will be part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) union, an industrial trade union that represents over 300,000 employees.
Approximately 110 employees were eligible to vote to join. CORE and IAMAW sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook in May 2022 informing him of the decision to organize their union, stating that “access to rights we do not currently have” as a driving reason for the move. The New York Times reported that employees said a union would help increase workers’ compensation; stabilize the store's scheduling, which has been strained by recent COVID-19 cases; and make it easier for workers to advance within the company. The vote was announced on June 18 by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), but that group still needs to certify the votes, which could take a week. Apple is also required to bargain with the union over working conditions after the vote is certified, according to the NLRB.
Total Retail's Take: The announcement that the first Apple store in the U.S. has unionized isn't that surprising right now to retail industry observers. After all, more and more retail workers, including at companies such as Starbucks and Amazon.com, are unionizing as a way to help them address grievances related to working conditions, compensation, and benefits, among other issues. The Towson store discussed above, for example, is one of several Apple locations that have publicly announced union drives, and other retail organizers at additional store locations are watching its results closely. Employees at two high-traffic, high-volume Apple stores in New York, the Grand Central Terminal and World Trade Center locations, have also signaled that they intend to join a union. While this is potentially good new for workers, it signals possible HR headaches for retail management going forward. After all, while the vote is a defeat for Apple, which has opposed unionization efforts, it could energize workers at the company’s other retail locations to move forward with organizing.