TOWSON, Md. — Workers at Apple storefronts in suburban Baltimore voted by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 for a union on Saturday, a partnership said, joining growing pressure in the U.S. retail, service, and technology sectors to organize for better workplace protection.
Apple’s store employees in Towson, Maryland, voted 65 to 33 to gain access to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the union’s announcement said. The vote could not be immediately confirmed with the National Labor Relations Board, which was supposed to certify the outcome. An NLRB spokesperson referred early questions about the voice to the council’s regional office, which was closed late Saturday.
Apple declined to comment on Saturday’s development, company spokesman Josh Lipton told The Associated Press by phone.
Trade union organizing in various fields has recently gained momentum after decades of declining U.S. union membership. Organizers have worked to create unions at companies like Amazon, Starbucks, Google parent company Alphabet, and outdoor retailer REI.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Apple employees who wanted to join said it sent Apple CEO Tim Cook last month that they wanted to form a union. The statement said their motive was to “seek rights we don’t currently have”. It added that the workers recently organized themselves into the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees, or CORE.
“I applaud the courage CORE members have shown at the Apple Store in Towson for achieving this historic victory,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the country who had all eyes on this election.”
Martinez called on Apple to respect the election results and let union workers accelerate their efforts to land a contract at the Towson site.
It remained unclear what steps the vote in Towson would take. Labor experts say it’s common for employers to drag the negotiation process to bring momentum out of union campaigns.
The IAM bills itself as one of North America’s largest and most diverse industrial unions, representing approximately 600,000 active and retired members in the aerospace, defense, aviation, railway, transportation, healthcare, automotive, and other industries.
The Apple Stores union organization comes against a backdrop of other unions nationwide — some of them rejected.
Amazon workers at a warehouse in New York City voted in April to join a union, the first successful U.S. organization in the retail giant’s history. However, workers at another Amazon warehouse on Staten Island overwhelmingly rejected an offer from the union last month. Meanwhile, Starbucks employees at dozens of U.S. stores have voted to unionize in recent months after two of the coffee chain’s stores in Buffalo, New York, voted to unionize late last year.
Many union efforts have been led by young workers in their twenties and teens. Last year, a group of Google engineers and other employees formed the Alphabet Workers Union, which represents about 800 Google employees and is run by five people under the age of 35.