Workers at an Apple shop in Maryland have chosen to join a union, making it the tech giant’s first retail union in the US.
The employees of the Towson shop voted 65-33 in favor of the initiative, with approximately a dozen abstentions.
“Now we rejoice… tomorrow we resume organizing,” the organization tweeted after the results were announced.
It’s the third Apple shop to try to organize a union this year, but it’s the first to get a vote.
The Coalition of Organized Retail Employees, the new Apple Core union, wrote an open letter to Apple in May, claiming their bid was “about us as employees obtaining access to rights that we do not now have,” but that it did not want to “go against or cause confrontation with our management.”
Other Apple shops, like those in Atlanta and New York, have taken steps toward unionization. Staff in Atlanta, on the other hand, have postponed their scheduled ballot, citing anti-union action by the firm, according to the union involved, the Communications Workers of America.
Although unions are less widespread in the United States than in many European nations, they are nevertheless legally protected. In order for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a formal election, either the firm must voluntarily recognize a union or workers must collect signatures from at least 30% of employees.
According to reports, Apple engaged a legal firm that specializes in labor law and compiled “talking points” for its management teams to discourage employees from joining a union.
In April, Motherboard published an audio clip of retail vice president Deirdre O’Brien reminding staff that “it’s equally your choice not to join a union” while acknowledging the right to join a union.
“I’m concerned about what it would mean to place another entity in the midst of our partnership, one that doesn’t have a strong grasp of Apple or our industry,” says the audio.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, a long-established union, backed the Towson workers. Robert Martinez Jr, the company’s president, congratulated Apple staff on a “historic triumph.”
He remarked, “They made a significant sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees throughout the country who were all focused on this election.”
“This result demonstrates the rising support for unions at Apple stores and across the country.”
Apple declined to comment on the vote, which has yet to be officially validated by the NLRB, according to the AFP news agency.
The Towson store’s union is the most recent in a long line of high-profile US labor struggles.
Starbucks employees in New York formed their first union in decades in December after a successful campaign, which has spawned similar initiatives in many of the company’s individual locations.
At April, Amazon workers in a New York warehouse voted 55 percent in favor of unionization, though Amazon is challenging the results and requesting a re-run.