BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Apple Store workers in Maryland vote to authorize strike

May 13, 2024, 5:00 AM | Updated: 10:01 am

The Apple Store at Towson Town Center Mall in Maryland is pictured. Apple Store workers in Towson, ...

The Apple Store at Towson Town Center Mall in Maryland is pictured. Apple Store workers in Towson, Maryland, the first of the tech giant’s retail employees to unionize, made history again by voting late May 11 in favor of authorizing a strike.

New York (CNN) — Apple Store workers in Towson, Maryland, the first of the tech giant’s retail employees to unionize, made history again by voting late Saturday in favor of authorizing a strike.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (IAM CORE), the union representing the workers, said in a news release the vote “underscores the frustrations among workers regarding unresolved workplace issues.”

Employees 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 don’t “align with the area’s cost of living.”

“This vote today is the first step in demonstrating our solidarity and sends a clear message to Apple,” said members of the union’s negotiating committee on Saturday. “The passage of the strike sanction vote highlights IAM CORE’s unwavering commitment to advocating for the rights and well-being of workers in the face of challenges.”

In response, Apple said in a statement to CNN that it will “engage with the union representing our team in 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,” an Apple spokeswoman said. “We deeply value our team members and we’re proud to provide them with industry leading compensation and exceptional benefits.”

The union at the Towson store has not disclosed what date members would strike.

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

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

“Instead of leaving the decision up to the workers themselves, the company turned to its usual anti-union playbook to influence the results of the election,” CWA said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg.

Labor issues

Labor unrest has embroiled Apple and its retail stores, compounding the number of issues facing the iPhone maker including regulatory scrutiny in Washingtonsluggish sales in China and an iPad ad that massively backfired.

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

The labor wave hitting Apple retail stores echoes the mass organizing that began at other influential companies in the United States, such as Starbucks and Amazon. As Apple grew to become the world’s first $3 trillion company, a tight labor market from the Covid-19 pandemic exposed labor conditions and inequalities facing workers in stores and warehouses.

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

CNN’s Ramishah Maruf contributed to this report.

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Apple Store workers in Maryland vote to authorize strike