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Apple store workers to form first union in the US

Unions are less common in the US than in many European countries but are still protected by the law.

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Washington: Workers at an Apple store in Maryland have voted to form a union, thus establishing the tech giant’s first retail union in the United States, BBC reported on Sunday.

The employees of the shop in Towson passed the measure 65-33, with about a dozen abstentions and thus became the third Apple store to launch a union drive this year, but the first one to successfully hold a vote.

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The new Apple Core union – short for the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees – penned 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 made moves toward unionisation. But the staff in Atlanta, have delayed their planned ballot, with the union involved – the Communications Workers of America – alleging anti-union activity by the company.

Unions are less common in the US than in many European countries but are still protected by the law. Forming a union involves either the company voluntarily recognising a union, or workers gathering signatures from at least 30 per cent of employees so that the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) can hold a formal election.

Reports say that Apple has hired a law firm known for its union expertise, and collated “talking points” for its management teams to dissuade employees from signing up for one.

In April, Motherboard released an audio recording 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”.

The employees in Towson had the backing of a long-established union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Its president, Robert Martinez Jr, congratulated the Apple employees on what he called a “historic victory”.

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