Apple store workers push to unionize

Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

Employees at Apple Inc. retail stores are next to join the nationwide push to unionize within big corporations.

Data from 2021 shows there are 272 Apple retail stores nationwide, with 23 of them in the state of New York, according to Statista. Apple employs over 65,000 retail workers in the United States.

An organizing committee consisting of Apple store employees at the company’s flagship location in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal has been pushing to unionize since February.

The committee voted on Feb. 21, in favor of affiliating itself with the Workers United labor union, which is also affiliated with the workers union for Starbucks Corp.. The committee is naming the union, “Fruit Stand Workers United.”

“The truth is that without a union, Apple reserves the right to make all decisions about your job without any input from you,” FSWU wrote on its website. “If workers form a union, Apple must negotiate with those workers in good faith to reach a contract.”

Employees at a location in Atlanta, Georgia on April 20, were the first to officially file papers to hold a vote to hold a union election after collecting more than 100 cards for union authorization. They are being represented by the Communications Workers of America union.

“A number of us have been here for many years, and we don’t think you stick at a place unless you love it,” Apple retail employee Derrick Bowles said in a press release. “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.”

Their demands include a minimum wage of $30, safer work conditions and increased benefits such as increased compensation for tuition, more days for leave and better retirement packages.

The current hourly wage for Apple retail employees ranges from $17 to $30. Employees have raised concerns about health conditions from dust and pollution from Grand Central.

In response, the company expressed disappointment in the employees’ efforts, saying it is already providing “very strong” work benefits

“We are fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple,” an Apple spokesperson told CNBC.

The retail employees made it clear that while they are unionizing for better working conditions from Apple, they are not against the company, rather trying to improve it to ensure quality service.

“We work hard at Apple because we really believe in the products and the company and we want to make sure that every Apple worker is able to afford quality housing and basic living expenses,” Elli Daniels, a worker for the Atlanta retail location, said in a press release. “We are proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with our coworkers and look forward to working with Apple to build an even better company for workers, consumers and for Apple itself.”

Apple reported a record revenue of $123.9 million for the first quarter, which started in October 2021, with shares up by 11%. In the last fiscal year, the company earned a total revenue of $365.8 billion.

The efforts within Apple come at a time when retail and manufacturing workers at other big corporations are pushing to unionize.

Retail employees at a Kansas City, Missouri location for Google — which is owned by Alphabet Inc. — became the first in the company’s retail sector to vote for unionizing, joining the company’s Alphabet Workers Union on March 25. A Staten Island fulfillment center for, Inc. became the first in its company to unionize.

A union vote date is not set for the Atlanta retail location as of April 25.