Employees at an Apple store in Maryland voted to unionise, establishing the tech giant’s first retail union in the United States.
The Towson shop employees voted 65-33 in favour of the measure, with about a dozen abstentions.
After the results were announced, the group tweeted, “Now we celebrate… tomorrow we continue organising.”
It is the third Apple store to launch a union drive this year, but the first to hold a vote successfully.
The Coalition of Organized Retail Employees, the new Apple Core union, wrote an open letter to Apple in May, saying its bid was “about us as workers gaining access to rights that we do not currently have,” but that it did not want to “go against or create conflict with our management.”
Other Apple stores in Atlanta and New York have also begun to unionise. Staff in Atlanta, on the other hand, have postponed their planned ballot, citing anti-union activity by the company, according to the union involved, the Communications Workers of America.
Unions are less common in the United States than in many European countries, but they are still legally protected. To form one, either the company voluntarily recognises a union or workers gather signatures from at least 30% of employees so that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) can hold a formal election.
According to reports, Apple hired a law firm known for its union expertise and compiled “talking points” for its management teams to discourage employees from joining one.
Motherboard published an audio recording in April of retail vice president Deirdre O’Brien telling employees that, while she recognised the right to join a union, “it’s equally your right not to join a union.”