Despite numerous attempts to dissuade the Apple brand, the Apple Store in Tucson, on the outskirts of Baltimore, was able thanks to a vote to create the group’s first union. An initiative that is becoming more and more popular in the United States.
After Starbucks and Amazon, Apple’s union movement on Saturday won a historic victory for a union in a US Apple Store, a first for the Apple brand. Of the 110 store employees in Tucson, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland, 65 voted in favor and 33 against, according to a count released Saturday by the federal agency responsible for overseeing the poll.
“We did it Tucson! We won! Thanks to everyone who worked so hard and supported us!” Respond to the AppleCORE (Apple Distribution Employee Coalition) account, as well as authorized campaign personnel. They added, “Today we celebrate with the mechanics union. Tomorrow we will continue to mobilize.”
AppleCORE members have campaigned with IAM (International Association of Machinists). They demand a voice in setting salaries, working hours and safety procedures. Saturday’s result means that store employees, who have been called to vote since Wednesday, must set up their branch within IAM, once the results are certified by the federal agency. The victory echoes that of Amazon’s New York warehouse last April, another tech group that tried in vain to counter the regulation efforts.
The Apple Store wasn’t the first to try to join a syndicate, but it was the first attempt that led to a vote. Apple’s director of distribution and human resources, Deirdre O’Brien, visited the store in May to address employees.
“You have the right to join a union, but you also have the right not to join a union,” she told them, according to an audio excerpt broadcast by Vice. She had asserted that having an intermediary would complicate the relationship between Apple and its employees.
“I am concerned that an organization may find itself in the middle of our relationship, an organization that does not have a deep understanding of Apple and our work,” she said. “And above all, an organization that in my opinion does not share our commitment to you.”
The California group declined to comment on the news. The IAM union, upstream, denounced attempts to dissuade employees from voting “yes” to join unions. In a video provided by the pro-union outlet More Perfect Union, AppleCORE activists expressed their “disgust” with meetings that seemed designed to deter them. One says: “We were told ‘Apple offers so many benefits, you should be grateful'”.
“I salute the courage shown by the members of CORE (…) to achieve this historic victory,” Robert Martinez, President of IAM International, commented in a press release from the union.
“They have made tremendous sacrifices for the sake of millions of Apple employees across the country, all of whom have watched this election,” he continued, saying the vote is a sign of growing demand from unions in the country, Apple Stores and other industries. Tim Cook, the head of the iPhone maker, also called for the outcome to be respected and the swift adoption of a collective agreement with the new syndicate branch.
Over the course of several decades, unions have achieved several symbolic victories in the United States in recent months, starting with the apparent support of Joe Biden. The creation of the first consortium at the chain’s directly operated Starbucks coffee in the United States in December sparked enthusiasm as staff, often young and educated, were mobilized at NGOs, universities, museums and the media.
At Amazon, employees of a warehouse in New York caused a surprise in early April with a majority vote in favor of creating a union, the group’s first in the United States. But this isolated victory (after two failures in Alabama and before another at a screening center in New York) has not yet translated into substantive negotiations.
The company demanded that this result be annulled and the organization of a second vote, on the grounds that the union, in its opinion, was intimidating employees to encourage them to vote “yes”.
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