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The Apple store in Towson, Maryland is the first in the U.S. to successfully vote for unionization. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
The Apple store in Towson, Maryland is the first in the U.S. to successfully vote for unionization. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

First U.S. Apple retail store votes for unionization in Maryland, as organized labor wave continues

The election took place on Saturday, June 18 in Towson by a vote of nearly two-to-one.

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As several Apple stores across the country are fighting for their right to unionize, employees in Towson, Maryland became the first to win formal recognition.

The landmark election took place on Saturday, June 18, with nearly two-to-one margin in favor of the union. Of the 110 eligible employees, 65 voted yes, and 33 voted no.

This historic win has glaring similarities between the victories of Amazon and Starbucks workers. They emerged triumphant despite costly and aggressive union-busting tactics on behalf of these corporate giants.

In May, Deirdre O’Brien, the trillion-dollar tech company’s vice president of people and retail, sent a video to 58,000 retail staff members, warning them about the perceived downsides of joining a union.

“I worry that because the union would bring its own legally mandated rules, that would determine how we work through issues. It could make it harder for us to act to swiftly address things that you raise,” O’Brien said.

Meanwhile, a store in Atlanta, Georgia was scheduled to be the first to hold a union election, but the organizers withdrew their request, alleging that Apple was using illegal union-busting tactics against them, such as “captive audience” meetings. 

When the organizers first filed for an election, 70 out of 100 Cumberland Mall store employees signed union authorization cards. Since then, Apple raised retail pay to a $22 per hour minimum, a raise of $2. 

Now, the Towson store will be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and they are referring to themselves as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE). 

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

When they first made their unionizing intentions known, they penned a letter to Tim Cook, Apple CEO. 

“We have come together as a union because of a deep love of our role as workers within the company and out of care for the company itself. To be clear, the decision to form a union is about us as workers gaining access to rights that we do not currently have,” the letter read. 

As the first Apple store in the U.S to successfully unionize, the Towson workers have the potential to ignite a movement for Apple stores in other states. 

The New York Times reported that over 24 Apple stores have expressed interest in organizing, including the NYC location in Grand Central Terminal. 

Christie Pridgen, a tech expert at the store and one of the Towson organizers, told CNN that the major issue driving the organizing efforts was the desire for workers to have a say in how the store is run. 

"Compensation is important, considering the cost of living in general and inflation, but the bigger thing is having a say. That was the most important thing to me,” Pridgen said. 

Pridgen, who has worked at the store for 8 years, said workers want to have a say in hours and scheduling, as well as safety protocols. 

The Apple store victory follows the union win at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, the first Amazon facility to do so. There have also been an impressive string of union wins at Starbucks locations nationwide since late last year. 

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