Workers at Apple store in US vote to unionise, a first for the tech giant

Workers at an Apple store in the US state of Maryland voted to form a union, a first for the tech giant which has pushed back firmly against unionising attempts in the past.

According to news agency AFP, of the 110 employees at the Apple store in Towson, Baltimore county, 65 voted in favour of joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), while 33 voted against.

With this, it became the first of Apple’s 270-odd stores in the US to unionise, a step described as “one for history” by the IAM.

“I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr in a statement accessed by NBC News. “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,” he added.

The union said employees at the Towson store joined forces with the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees to send a letter to Tim Cook “informing him of the decision to organise” and urging him not to dissuade or block their attempts to unionise.

Earlier, amid murmurs of a unionising drive, Apple’s Senior VP of Retail Dierdre O’Brien had released a video warning employees that joining a union could hurt the company’s business. At the start of 2022, the tech giant became the first US firm to reach a market valuation of $3 trillion.

Following the successful vote to unionise, Tyra Reeder, a technical specialist at the Apple store in Towson told The New York Times that she hoped a union would help workers get better wages, improve the store’s scheduling and Covid-19 policies, and make it easier for workers to advance within the company.

In April, workers at an Apple store in Atlanta announced their intention to hold a union election. But support for the unionising drive fizzled out after the company raised wages and highlighted the benefits it offers, while allegedly hinting to employees that they may lose said benefits during a contract negotiation if they unionised.

Apple is yet to issue a statement on the Towson store’s bid to join a union.

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