Apple Store workers in Maryland voted to authorize a strike

Apple Store workers in Maryland voted to authorize a strike

Apple Store workers in Towson, Maryland, the first of the tech giant’s retail workers to unionize, made history again by voting late Saturday in favor of strike authorization.

The International Association of Machine and Aerospace Workers Organized Retail Workers (IAM CORE), the union that represents the workers, said in a news release that the vote “illustrates the frustration among workers about unresolved workplace issues.”

Workers at the store in Towson, a suburb of Baltimore, have been in contract negotiations with Apple management since last year over a number of issues, including the store’s “unpredictable” scheduling practices and wages that are not “in line with the area’s cost of living.”

“Today’s vote is the first step in showing our unity and sending a clear message to Apple,” members of the union’s negotiating committee said on Saturday. “The passage of the strike restriction vote highlights IAM CORE’s unwavering commitment to fight for workers’ rights and well-being in the face of challenges.”

In response, Apple said in a statement to CNN that it would “engage with the union that represents our team at Towson respectfully and in good faith.”

“At Apple we work hard to provide an excellent experience for our retail team members and empower them to deliver exceptional service for our customers,” said an Apple spokesperson. “We deeply value our team members and we are proud to provide them with industry-leading compensation and exceptional benefits.”

The union at the Towson store did not disclose when members would strike.

Meanwhile, another vote for a store to unionize failed this weekend.

Apple workers at the Mall in Short Hills store in New Jersey voted against the union on Saturday, according to Bloomberg. The union, known as the Communications Workers of America, accused Apple of engaging in illegal union-busting activities and blamed the defeat on Apple’s tactics.

“Instead of leaving the decision to the workers themselves, the company turned to familiar anti-union playbooks to influence election results,” the CWA said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg.
Labor issues
The labor unrest has embroiled Apple and its retail stores, adding to the number of issues facing the iPhone maker including regulatory scrutiny in Washington, sluggish sales in China and iPad ads that backfired massively.

The National Labor Relations Board last week upheld a ruling alleging union-busting tactics by Apple in New York City.

The wave of labor that has hit Apple retail stores echoes mass organizing that began at other influential companies in the United States, such as Starbucks and Amazon. As Apple grows into the world’s first $3 trillion company, the tight labor market due to the Covid-19 pandemic exposes the labor conditions and inequalities faced by workers in stores and warehouses.

“It speaks to growing frustration among workers and also contagion in labor activity, which is when one group of workers stands up and inspires others,” Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of Labor Education Research at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, previously told CNN.

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