Workers in Atlanta, Georgia, have become the first US Apple Store staff to file an official request to hold an union vote with America’s National Labor Relations Board.
“A number of us have been here for many years, and we don’t think you stick at a place unless you love it,” said Derrick Bowles, Apple Genius and Communications Workers of America (CWA) organizer.
“Apple is a profoundly positive place to work, but we know that the company can better live up to their ideals and so we’re excited to be joining together with our coworkers to bring Apple to the negotiating table and make this an even better place to work.”
The CWA filed the petition for formal union recognition on Wednesday after a months-long campaign to secure the support of Apple Store staff in the Cumberland Mall, Atlanta. Over 70 per cent of the 107 eligible workers – made up salespeople, technicians, and operation specialists working at the iGiant’s outlet in the mall – have signed authorization cards, we’re told by people familiar with the matter.
Under the labor board’s rules, a union needs to obtain signatures representing at least 30 per cent of employees eligible to vote for representation – something New York City Apple Store workers began an effort on last week.
The Atlanta action was apparently inspired by the first successful unionization of an Amazon warehouse – a dispute kicked off over worker safety and wages.
The CWA pledged to fight to improve working conditions and increase pay. “We work hard at Apple because we really believe in the products and the company and we want to make sure that every Apple worker is able to afford quality housing and basic living expenses,” Elli Daniels, product zone worker and a union member, said in a statement.
“We are proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with our coworkers and look forward to working with Apple to build an even better company for workers, consumers and for Apple itself.”
Officials at the labor board will review the petition before members in Atlanta can begin campaigning for a union election. If they win the vote, it could be the first-ever US Apple Store to unionize.
“We welcome the workers who are organizing at Apple and call on the company’s management to reject union busting tactics so that they can vote without interference or intimidation,” said Ed Barlow, president of CWA Local 3204 in Atlanta.
“These workers have been indispensable during the pandemic and the high level of service and support they provide is critical to Apple’s success. By having a union voice, they will be able to negotiate lasting improvements to their working conditions.”
The Register has asked Apple for comment. ®