Workers win vote to form first-ever US Apple Store union

Results set to be ratified by labor board by end of the week


Workers at an Apple Store in Towson, Maryland have voted to form a union, making them the first of the iGiant's retail staff to do so in the United States.

Out of 110 eligible voters, 65 employees voted in support of unionization versus 33 who voted against it. The organizing committee, known as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE), has now filed to certify the results with America's National Labor Relations Board. Members joining this first-ever US Apple Store union will be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

"I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory," IAM's international president Robert Martinez Jr said in a statement on Saturday. "They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election."

"I ask Apple CEO Tim Cook to respect the election results and fast-track a first contract for the dedicated IAM CORE Apple employees in Towson. This victory shows the growing demand for unions at Apple stores and different industries across our nation," he added. 

The CORE team previously wrote a letter to Cook notifying him that workers at the Towson store wished to form a collective bargaining unit, and asked for voluntary recognition. After no response from Apple, the committee filed for a petition with the labor board showing it had support from at least 30 per cent of employees to hold an official union election. Now it has won the vote, the board will have to certify the results. Apple will then be required to enter bargaining discussions with the union.

Kevin Gallagher, a member of the organizing committee, who works at the Towson Apple Store, told The Register on Monday the committee is working to build a team in preparation for the negotiations.

"We want a seat at the table to help create policy that benefits us and our customers best," he said. "We also believe that there is a disparity in compensation between corporate employees and retail, so we would like to close the $98 million gap between Tim Cook's yearly salary and ours.

"He currently makes 1,447 times the average employee, but that number is screed even further by the competitive salaries paid to our engineering teams."

The average worker in my store makes well below the standard of living for my state

"The average worker in my store makes well below the standard of living for my state," Gallagher told us.

"With the cost of rent of Maryland, workers would need to make $57k a year in order to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment and only pay 1/3 of their income for it. Currently no one outside of the leadership team makes anywhere close to that."

Gallagher said the committee has yet to receive a response acknowledging the union from Cook or anyone else from Apple. A spokesperson for the Silicon Valley giant declined to comment. 

This successful unionization campaign has encouraged other Apple retail workers to think about forming unions at their locations. Gallagher said people have been reaching out asking the committee for their playbook on organizing. Efforts are underway at other Apple Stores around the US, including New York and Georgia. ®

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