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Apple workers in Atlanta become company's 1st retail workers to file to unionize

A man uses his mobile phone near an Apple store logo in Beijing.
Ng Han Guan
/
AP
A man uses his mobile phone near an Apple store logo in Beijing.

Apple workers in Atlanta filed to unionize Wednesday, becoming the first retail employees for the tech giant to do so in the nation, according to Communications Workers of America, the union representing the employees.

Staff at the Apple store in Atlanta's Cumberland Mall submitted their filing Monday. It included salespeople, technicians, creatives, and operations specialists, CWA said in a statement Wednesday.

"A number of us have been here for many years, and we don't think you stick at a place unless you love it," said Derrick Bowles, an Apple Genius worker who is a part of the organizing effort. "Apple is a profoundly positive place to work, but we know that the company can better live up to their ideals, and so we're excited to be joining together with our coworkers to bring Apple to the negotiating table and make this an even better place to work."

CWA said big tech companies like Google, Amazon and Apple fail to give employees who don't work in an office equal standing and respect.

More than 100 employees are eligible to join the union effort, and at least 30% of workers must sign union authorization cards to show interest for the group to be registered with the National Labor Relations Board. Seventy percent of the Cumberland Mall workers have shown interest, CWA said.

"We welcome the workers who are organizing at Apple and call on the company's management to reject union busting tactics so that they can vote without interference or intimidation," said Ed Barlow, President of CWA Local 3204 in Atlanta. "These workers have been indispensable during the pandemic and the high level of service and support they provide is critical to Apple's success."

Unionization movements have picked up steam at other large companies, such as Amazon and Starbucks.

Earlier this month, Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, became the first group of Amazon employees to unionize. The historic vote was 2,654 for the union to 2,131 against.

The workers, who pick and package items for customer orders at the facility, will be represented by the Amazon Labor Union, an upstart group formed by Christian Smalls after he was fired from Amazon in March 2020. At the time a supervisor at the fulfillment center, he staged a walkout over the lack of worker protections against the coronavirus.

At Starbucks, a wave of union organizing that started in Buffalo, N.Y., has swept stores across the country. Close to 190 have petitioned for union elections, and 10 stores — half in Buffalo, and the others in New York City; Mesa, Ariz.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and in Starbucks' hometown of Seattle — have voted to join Workers United.

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