July 6, 2022

As a wave of worker organizing sweeps the U.S., Apple employees could be the next to unionize.

Workers at the iPhone maker’s retail store in New York’s Grand Central Terminal have taken the first steps to form a union, The Washington Post first reported. If the organizers’ effort is successful, it would mark the first time a union has been formed by employees of the tech giant. 

The organizers, who are calling themselves the Fruit Stand Workers United, have launched a website announcing the effort and to lobby for better pay and working conditions. 

Signing union authorization cards, which indicate an employee’s desire to be represented by the union, is the first step toward “higher pay, better working conditions and more robust benefits,” a former worker at the Grand Central Terminal retail location named Alex said in a short video posted on the group’s website.

“Simply, you get a seat at the table when it comes to your life at work,” he added.

The Fruit Stand Workers United have joined forces with Workers United, a national labor union that recently helped Starbucks workers.

So far, workers at 17 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize, including locations in Seattle, Arizona and upstate New York. Starbucks workers at more than 150 stores have since filed with the National Labor Relations Board to hold union elections.

Earlier this month, Amazon workers in New York City voted to form the first union at the online retail giant. Amazon has said it plans to contest the results.

The organizing committee at Apple is seeking signatures from at least 30% of the store’s workers before it files with the National Labor Relations Board, which will set a date for a formal election. Employees then vote either “yes” or “no” to forming a union, and if 50% of employees plus one vote yes, Workers United would become authorized to negotiate behalf of all the workers at the Grand Central Terminal location. 

Workers are seeking better compensation for their contributions to Apple’s “exponential growth” over the past decade, according to the website.

“Year over year, the cost of living in New York City has not kept pace with our wages. Meanwhile, Apple has grown to be the most valuable company in the world. Why should its retail workers live precariously?” at statement on the website reads.

“Grand Central is an extraordinary store with unique working conditions that make a union necessary to ensure our team has the best possible standards of living in what have proven to be extraordinary times with the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and once-in-a-generation consumer price inflation,” the website also says.

Apple retail store employees earn a minimum hourly rate of $20, according to a company spokesperson. Apple operates more than 270 stores across the U.S., employing tens of thousands of workers. 

An Apple spokesperson declined to say if the company will support or fight the unionization effort. 

“We are fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News. “We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full time and part time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits.”

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