President Joe Biden on Monday, June 20th 2022, congratulated Apple employees in Maryland who voted to unionize, saying he was “proud of them” for making the decision, which could affect their working conditions.
Employees at the Towson Town Center, Maryland Apple Store voted on Saturday to form a union, making it the first Apple retail location to do so. Following the vote, the US President congratulated the workers on their decision.
“I am proud of them,” Biden told reporters , according to Reuters. “Workers have the right to choose whether or not to work under certain conditions.”
“Everyone is better off, including the final product (as a result of unions),” Biden continued.
According to a National Labor Relations Board count conducted Saturday, a majority of the 100 workers at Apple’s Towson, Maryland, location voted to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Employees in Maryland voted 65 to 33 in favor of unionization on Saturday, which was in line with expectations. Other stores, such as those in New York and Atlanta, had attempted to unionize earlier, but the Towson Town Center location was the first to actually do so.
The coalition of organized retail employees was formed after a year-long effort by organizers who collaborated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to form the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE).
The terms of the agreement are still unknown. Organizers in the two previous stores had been pushing for an increase in the current starting wage of $20 per hour, and Apple has since promised to pay $22.
Employees at the Cumberland Mall store in Atlanta, for example, are requesting a raise to $28 per hour. Employees at New York’s Grand Central Station Apple Store want the starting wage to be raised to $30.
In a new video for employees, Apple’s retail chief Deirdre O’Brien pushed back against recent unionization efforts at some of the company’s physical locations. She has stated that the efforts could stifle workplace progress and potentially harm Apple’s relationship with its employees.
The company was recently accused of violating the National Labor Relations Act by opposing a union drive at Georgia’s Apple Cumberland Mall.
The company previously circulated anti-union materials to some store managers and has hired well-known anti-union lawyers to respond to the Atlanta union campaign.
Amid the unionization efforts, Apple said that it would improve working conditions for retail employees. Apple plans to make sure that there are at least 12 hours between each shift an employee must take on, up from the current 10 hour minimum. Employees will not have to work past 8:00 p.m. for more than three days a week unless they choose to work late shifts, and they will no longer be scheduled to work more than five days in a row except during holidays and major product launches.
The company had previously distributed anti-union materials to some store managers and had hired well-known anti-union attorneys to respond to the Atlanta union campaign.
In the midst of the unionization campaign, Apple announced that it would improve working conditions for retail employees. Apple intends to increase the minimum time between shifts to at least 12 hours, up from the current minimum of 10 hours. Employees will no longer be required to work past 8:00 p.m. three days a week unless they choose to work late shifts, and they will no longer be scheduled to work more than five days in a row except during holidays and major product launches.
Biden, who has described himself as the most pro-labor president in history, has praised those victories.