By Jessica Corbett / Common Dreams
After Apple employees in Maryland voted Saturday to form the tech giant’s first retail store union in the United States, workers’ rights advocates across the country celebrated the “pathbreaking win for labor.”
Workers at the store in Towson recently organized into the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE) and have decided to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
“We did it!” IAM declared on Twitter, welcoming the Towson workers.
IAM international president Robert Martinez Jr. in a statement that “I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory. They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election.”
“I ask Apple CEO Tim Cook to respect the election results and fast-track a first contract for the dedicated IAM CORE Apple employees in Towson,” Martinez added. “This victory shows the growing demand for unions at Apple stores and different industries across our nation.”
The win in Maryland comes as Amazon and Starbucks workers across the nation are also pushing for unions—and the companies are fighting back.
Apple is no different, according to More Perfect Union and The Washington Post, which reported that “Saturday evening’s initial tally was 65-33, and the official count was pending.”
While an Apple representative declined to comment, Towson worker Billy Jarboe told the newspaper that the company’s campaign to undermine the union drive “definitely shook people,” but most supporters of the effort weren’t swayed.
“It just feels good to go into a new era of this kind of work, hopefully it creates a spark [and] the other stores can use this momentum,” Jarboe said.
Eric Brown, another employee in Towson, told the Post that organizers of an unsuccessful unionization campaign at an Atlanta store “let us know what some of the talking points and tactics were going to be, and we were able to let people know some of the things they may try.”
Tyra Reeder similarly told The New York Times that “we kind of got some insight from the Atlanta store on things that were coming,” pointing to the company’s claims that a contract negitation process could lead to workers losing some benefits.
“For that to happen, a majority of us have to agree,” Reeder said. “I don’t think any of us would agree to lose something we love dearly, that benefits us.”
As for being an Apple employee, Reeder said: “We love our jobs. We just want to see them do better.”
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was among the political figures who welcomed the development in Maryland.
“Congratulations to Apple workers in Towson, Maryland on becoming the first Apple store in the United States to form a union!” Sanders tweeted. “What we are seeing right now is a historic uprising of working-class Americans telling the corporate elite that they have to end their greed.”
Tom Perez, a Democratic candidate for Maryland governor, also congratulated the Towson workers while tying their win to the broader movement currently sweeing the country.
“This is a big deal,” he said. “All across our country we’re seeing workers demanding fairness and dignity. So proud that the nation’s first Apple store to form a union is right here in Baltimore County.”