Apple Store employees in Towson, Maryland vote to unionize

Workers at Apple stores in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Md., voted on Saturday to become the first workers at one of the computer giant’s 270 U.S. outlets to join a union. Towson workers voted 65 to 33 to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) after a month-and-a-half organizing drive, which began in early May.

According to Washington Post, “Towson Mall employees said they hope the organization will give them a seat at the table on things like coronavirus safety, hours and pay.” The group will form a specific division of IAM called the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees, or “Apple CORE.”

“We are literally the face of Apple,” employee Chaya Barrett told the Baltimore Sun. “How is it fair that we are told what to do, what to say, how to act, but we have no say in the things that happen in our daily lives: our safety, our well-being, our Mental Health ?

Apple employees are pushing for better work hours and other improvements in opposition to the company’s brutal and oppressive practices. A worker told the Job that she’s forced to “juggle her homework as a mother of three” with Apple’s inflexible scheduling system. This “requires her to take vacation and sick days for routine childcare needs.”

Moreover, the average wage is only $20 an hour for workers who need considerable technical skills to serve Apple customers. Wages have been kept low despite record revenues and profits in recent years.

The company’s earnings in the second quarter of 2022 show it had $97.3 billion in revenue. This is an increase of 9% compared to the same period last year. After record earnings in 2021 and early 2022, the financial publication Market watch said it made Apple “one of the biggest winners in the first year of the pandemic,” the company struggled with stock sales and supply chain slowdowns.

IAM President Robert Martinez Jr. publicly celebrated the results and called on Apple CEO Tim Cook “to respect the election results and expedite a first contract.” For its part, Apple has not announced whether it will attempt to appeal the vote. It’s also possible that Apple is dragging out negotiations for a first contract, leaving Towson workers with nothing to show for their votes.

Other Apple stores in Atlanta, Georgia and New York’s Grand Central Terminal have also started holding drive-throughs. Communications Workers of America organizers canceled their campaign in Atlanta. claiming that “Apple’s repeated violations of the national labor relations law have made a free and fair election impossible.”

Among retail and technology workers, there has been an increased interest in organizing. Workers at dozens of Starbucks coffee shops have sought to unionize while 8,000 Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York, voted in late March to join the Amazon Labor Union.

Workers are looking for a way to fight collectively for livable working conditions, safety and dignity in their work. But the various organizations with which they are affiliated do not give them the way forward. Retail workers already unionized by many of the same organizations have seen their standard of living decline throughout the pandemic and before. A stark stat provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that non-union workers have actually suffered upper wage increases (4.9%) than their unionized counterparts (3.5%) in the 12 months ending March 2022.

As for IAM, it has a long history of colluding with corporate management and betraying strikes and other struggles by workers in Boeing, airlines and other industries.

Apple workers in Towson only have to travel an hour north on Interstate 83 to the Harley-Davidson factory in York, Pennsylvania, where 1,000 workers unanimously rejected a contract proposal submitted by IAM Local 175 last week. The agreement maintained the hated two-tier wage system, which strips young workers of income, pensions and other benefits. The workers denounced IAM officials for ignoring their demands and pushing a pro-company proposal that did not “pass the odor check”.

Speaking on the Apple workers’ vote, President Biden told reporters yesterday, “I’m proud of them. Workers have the right to determine under what conditions they will work or not work.

But Biden, a longtime accomplice of big business, knows that unions will not help workers determine their working conditions. Instead, it turns to corporate unions to quell the growing tide of working class opposition to soaring prices, intolerable working conditions and the continued sacrifice of human life for corporate profit as the pandemic continues.

Sooner or later, workers at Apple, Starbucks, Amazon and other newly unionized workplaces will find themselves in a struggle not just against corporate management, but against their new “representatives.” This is why the struggle for real worker control over the shop floor and for vastly improved wages and benefits requires the formation of rank-and-file factory and workplace committees. Made up of the most militant and class-conscious workers and based on the methods of class struggle, not class collaboration, these committees will fight for what workers need, not what is acceptable. for corporations and their two political parties.

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