Workers at the Penn Square Apple Store in Oklahoma City filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to hold a union election, becoming the third US location to do so. According to a press release, more than 70 percent of the store’s salespeople, genius administrators, technicians, creatives, and operations specialists signed cards indicating they wanted to be represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
The NLRB’s bar for a sufficient show of interest in an election is 30% of workers signing union cards.
The filing was previously reported by Bloombergand the outlet writes that Michael Forsythe, an employee and organizer at the Oklahoma City store, said workers are seeking “more transparency and input on issues such as safety, hours and wages.”
There has been a successful union campaign at Apple retail stores in the United States – in June, workers at Apple’s Towson Town Center store in Maryland voted to unionize. Campaigns in other outlets, such as one in New York (which also hopes to organize with the CWA), and another in Louisville, Kentucky, have not reached the point of holding an election. An election was scheduled in Atlanta, but the CWA called it off, saying it would be impossible to hold a fair election thanks to Apple’s “repeated violations of national labor relations law.”
Earlier this year, Apple’s vice president of human resources and retail, Deirdre O’Brien, tried to convince employees not to unionize, saying it would “place another organization in the middle of our relationship,” one that “doesn’t have a deep understanding of Apple or our business. (Organizers in Maryland were largely Apple Store employees, though the union worked with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.) flyers.
Apple also addressed a major complaint from some workers: money. In May, the company raised starting hourly wages at its retail stores from $20 to $22.
Given Apple’s apparent anti-union efforts and the absence of elections or other public union activities, it was easy to assume that the company’s outlet organizing campaign had deflated. However, experts said The edge that quick campaigns, like the one to organize Starbucks, are not the norm and that it can take years or organize a location. In other words, it wasn’t unusual for there not to be news from New York or Atlanta every day. Organizers in downtown Towson also mentioned that they had heard of people from other stores, who were quietly trying to organize their own campaigns.
The campaign in Oklahoma City reinforces the idea that labor campaigns have not disappeared at Apple. Now that the petition is filed, the NLRB will need to certify that there has been a sufficient expression of interest. If it determines, Apple and the organizers can come to an agreement on how to hold the election (which took place in Atlanta), or the NLRB can hold a hearing and make a decision on how the election will take place.
Contacted for comment, Apple spokesman Josh Lipton said the company reiterated its previous statement. Earlier this year he said The edge that Apple is “fortunate to have incredible members of the retail team and we deeply appreciate all that they bring to Apple. 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 grants in shares and many other benefits.