Towson workers vote to form first Apple store union in nation

·2 min read

BALTIMORE — Workers at the Apple store in Towson have voted to unionize, becoming the first of the company’s U.S. employees to do so.

Cheers erupted Saturday night in the parking garage of the Towson Town Center, where workers had gathered to learn the results of the union election. The employees voted 65-33 to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

“To be the first Apple store in the country to get a union is incredible,” said employee Tiawana Dugger, adding that the workers organized because they were “tired of being overlooked, tired of feeling like we weren’t heard, tired of not getting the things that we deserve.”

Voting in the union election started Wednesday and ended Saturday.

Apple spokesman Josh Lipton declined to comment on the results Saturday night.

The Towson employees, who formed the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees, or CORE, went public with their unionization efforts last month. Their concerns include compensation, fairness and COVID-19 safety.

“We’re trying to keep things safe for us, be able to have a say,” said employee Chaya Barrett. “We’re literally the face of Apple. How is it fair that we are being dictated as to what to do, what to say, how to act — but we don’t get any say in any of the things that are happening in our everyday lives: our safety, our well-being, our mental health?”

The Towson Apple workers are part of a national wave of organizing during the pandemic, which has brought workplace issues to the forefront. They said they hope to motivate other Apple retail employees to unionize.

“I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory,” said Robert Martinez Jr., president of the Machinists international union, in a statement. “They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election.”

Martinez called on Apple CEO Tim Cook “to respect the election results and fast-track a first contract for the dedicated (International Association of Machinists) CORE Apple employees in Towson.”

Some employees in Towson were overcome with emotion Saturday as they discussed their efforts, which they said were met with anti-union tactics from management.

They said they felt supported by Apple employees across the globe, receiving messages from countries including Japan and Spain.

In the United States, workers in at least two other Apple stores — in Atlanta and in New York City’s Grand Central Station — have launched unionization efforts.