Videos shared on social media showed jubilant scenes of employees cheering at the store, and in a mission statement ahead of the vote, the Oklahoma staff said they were fighting for better pay, career development and improved heath and well-being conditions in their work environment.
“It is our belief that great value is added to a company when its people are truly represented,” they said on their website. They added they were fighting “for the soul of Apple” and to “shine the spotlight back onto the company.”
The next step is for the U.S. National Labor Relations Board to officially certify the vote before contract negotiations can begin between one of the world’s most valuable companies and its new union.
Apple Store workers approve union, the first in the U.S.
Apple did not immediately respond to an overnight request for comment from The Washington Post. However, in a statement to Reuters the company said: “We believe the open, direct and collaborative relationship we have with our valued team members is the best way to provide an excellent experience for our customers, and for our teams.”
“We’re proud to provide our team members with strong compensation and exceptional benefits. Since 2018, we’ve increased our starting rates in the US by 45% and we’ve made many significant enhancements to our industry-leading benefits, including new educational and family support programs,” the company added.
After the turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing inflation and cost of living crisis, workers are increasingly rallying together to demand better wages, benefits and more job security.
In New York, the first Amazon warehouse voted to form a union in the spring, while dozens of Starbucks stores across the country have also unionized this year. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
“Let me congratulate the Apple Store workers in Oklahoma City for voting to become the 2nd unionized Apple Store in the US,” tweeted Vermont senator Bernie Sanders Friday. “Last year, Apple made a record $95 billion profit. Its billionaire CEO made $99 million in 2021. It’s time for Apple to treat its workers with respect.”
Some U.S. Apple Store employees are working to unionize, part of a growing worker backlash
In June, Apple workers in the Baltimore area became the first of the tech giant’s U.S. retail stores to unionize in the United States. Workers at the Towson, Md., store voted to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) 65 to 33.
At the time President Biden, who has previously described himself as pro-union, said he was proud of the Apple workers in Towson. “Workers have a right to determine under what condition they are going to work or not,” he said.
Apple store employees in Maryland, Atlanta and other locations are trying to launch union drives, however, the moves still only represent a trickle as the global tech giant boasts more than 270 retail locations in the United States, according to its website.