Apple store employees vote to form their first US union

Apple Store. — Photo: © AFP/File

A majority of employees at an Apple store in the United States have voted to form a union, a first for the tech giant, which has so far tried to discourage attempts to organize.

Of the 110 employees at the Towson, Md. store, 65 voted in favor and 33 against, according to a live tally broadcast Saturday by the federal agency overseeing the vote.

The vote comes after a group of employees called AppleCORE (Coalition of Organized Retail Employees) campaigned for unionization.

“We did it Towson! We won our union vote! Thank you to everyone who worked so hard and everyone who supported! Now we celebrate… Tomorrow we continue to organize,” AppleCORE tweeted.

They demand a say in wages, hours and safety measures.

Saturday’s result means shop workers, who have been voting since Wednesday, should form their own branch of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union, once the agency has certified the results.

IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr said he applauded the “courage” of the workers.

“They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the country who had all their eyes on this election. I ask Apple CEO Tim Cook to respect the election results and to expedite a first contract for dedicated IAM CORE Apple employees in Towson,” he said in a statement.

“This victory shows the growing demand for unions at Apple stores and different industries across our country.”

It wasn’t the first time employees at an Apple store had attempted to unionize, but it was the first attempt that resulted in a vote.

Apple’s director of distribution and human resources, Deirdre O’Brien, visited the store in May to speak to employees.

“I want to start by saying it’s your right to join a union, but it’s also your right not to join a union,” O’Brien said, according to audio released by Vice.

“If you’re faced with this decision, I want to encourage you to consult with a wide range of people and sources to understand what it might be like to work at Apple under a collective bargaining agreement.”

She said the presence of an intermediary would complicate relations between Apple and its employees.

The Silicon Valley giant told AFP it “refused to comment” on the news.

Unions, in decline for decades, have won several symbolic victories in the United States in recent months, with President Joe Biden expressing his support.

After a union formed at two Starbucks coffee shops in December in the northern city of Buffalo, employees at more than 160 of the chain’s locations demanded similar votes.

At Amazon, workers in a New York warehouse surprised everyone in early April by voting overwhelmingly to form a union, a first for the colossus of e-commerce in the United States.

But the company asked for the result to be overturned and for a second vote to be held.