(Bloomberg) — The labor group that helped organize the first successful unionization campaign at an Apple Inc store said it looks forward to starting talks with the company and building on success elsewhere.
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David Sullivan, general vice president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace, said, “The biggest thing for us now is to bring Apple to the table and talk to them about who we are and what we want for our union members. ” Workers, who prevailed in a union vote at a store in Towson, Maryland, last weekend.
Sullivan declined to discuss specific plans for the additional stores, but said the consortium has a “complete strategic plan.” “We have received calls from all over the country,” he said.
In a vote announced Saturday by the National Labor Relations Board, Towson employees voted to join the IAM by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. The bargaining unit, which calls itself a coalition, or core, of organized retail workers is comprised of about 100 employees. President Joe Biden hailed the move, saying “workers have the right to determine under what conditions they are supposed to work.”
The result represents a breakthrough for labor workers who struggled to infiltrate Apple. They now hope to mimic the success of Starbucks Corp. workers, who won their first union election last year and are now chasing the vote at hundreds of stores. Meanwhile, Amazon.com Inc. A U.S. labor group cast a successful vote at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, but then failed to secure a second vote at a nearby facility.
Just last month, a separate labor group trying to organize employees at an Apple store in Atlanta withdrew its request for the election, alleging there was an illegal union-busting strategy by the company. That organization, the Communications Workers of America, said it took the move “because Apple’s repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act have made a free and fair election impossible.”
In complaints filed with the NLRB, the CWA accused Apple of violating federal labor law by forcing workers in Atlanta and New York City to attend “captive audience” meetings about unionization. Towson store employees have also complained about such meetings, as well as a video message from Apple’s retail chief accusing the union in a negative light.
The executive, Deirdre O’Brien, told employees she was concerned about “what it would mean to have another organization in the middle of our relationship.”
“We have a relationship that is open and based on collaborative and direct engagement,” O’Brien said in the video, which Bloomberg reported last month.
Apple has increased employee pay and benefits in the months since employees first announced the organized effort. The company also increased the hourly wage for retail employees to at least $22 an hour, up from the previous $20 minimum. It also agreed to make the work schedule more flexible while addressing the source of stress for the employees.
In addition, Apple doubled the number of paid sick days, increased vacation time, and expanded backup care for children.
IAM’s Sullivan said he was confident the NLRB would authenticate the Towson vote. Once that happens, Apple and the consortium can begin negotiating a contract. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company did not immediately comment.
A More Perfect Union, a social welfare nonprofit, produced a video ahead of the vote in which Towson store employees called Apple’s anti-union campaign “bad.” The company’s message includes telling employees to management that the IAM once barred black employees from joining its ranks, he said.
A major issue is whether Apple crossed a line by pushing back against unionization. In the video, activists complained of managers holding meetings, which they described as “busting the union”.
Existing precedent allows companies to hold such meetings, but the NLRB’s current general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, considers them inherently coercive and illegal. She is pursuing cases that may change the precedent.
Abruzzo, a former CWA lawyer, is also trying to revive an old principle that required employers to negotiate with a labor group if they had no “good faith doubt” that most workers would be unionized. stands by.
“Apple’s messaging didn’t work in Maryland,” IAM’s Sullivan said. “We hope other activists around the country will see that they can stand up for themselves.”
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