After Starbucks and Amazon, the union movement across the Atlantic is winning the Apple brand.
After Starbucks and Amazon, the union movement won Apple on Saturday with the historic victory of a union in an American Apple Store, a first for the Apple brand. Of the 110 store employees in Towson, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland, 65 voted in favor and 33 against, according to the count broadcast live Saturday by the federal agency responsible for supervising the poll.
“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. “Today we celebrate it with the association of machinists. Tomorrow we continue the mobilization“, they added.
AppleCORE members campaigned with the IAM (International Association of Machinists) union. They demand a voice in deciding salaries, hours and safety measures. Saturday’s result means that the employees of this store, who had been called to vote since Wednesday, should create their branch within IAM, once the federal agency has certified the results.
The victory echoes that of an Amazon warehouse in New York in April, another technology group that has tried, in vain, to counter efforts to organize.
Attempts to discourage employees
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 extract broadcast by the site Vice.
She had assured that the presence of an intermediary would complicate the relationship between Apple and its employees. “I’m concerned about an organization standing in the middle of our relationship that doesn’t have a deep understanding of Apple and our business.“, she had still declared. “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 produced by More Perfect Union, a pro-union outlet, AppleCORE activists shared their “disgustin the face of meetings that seemed designed to deter them.
“We were told ‘Apple provides many benefits you should be grateful for’», Says one of them. “I applaud the courage shown by the members of CORE (…) to achieve this historic victorycommented Robert Martinez, president of IAM International, in a statement from the union.
An uncertain sequel
“They made a huge sacrifice for millions of Apple employees nationwide, all of whom watched this election.he continued, saying the vote is a sign of 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 the cancellation of this result and the organization of a second ballot, on the grounds in particular that the union would have, in its opinion, intimidated the employees to encourage them to vote “yes”.