Apple retail workers at the Cumberland Mall store in Atlanta, Georgia became the first group of U.S. Apple store workers to reach a crucial step in the formal unionization process: filing for a union election.
Over 70% of the store's 100 employees signed union authorization cards, demonstrating their interest in moving forward with formal recognition. The body is represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), who also represent Activision Blizzard's first union.
If more than 50% of employees vote to unionize through an election hosted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), then Apple will be required to recognize the bargaining unit. That means that if the union's current numbers remain constant until the election, then it looks like the Georgia store is on its way to being Apple's first retail union, following other historic wins at companies like Amazon and Starbucks.
"Apple is a profoundly positive place to work, but we know that the company can better live up to their ideals and so we’re excited to be joining together with our coworkers to bring Apple to the negotiating table and make this an even better place to work,” said Derrick Bowles, Apple Genius worker and union member, in a statement.
The union said in a statement that retail workers at Apple have been denied a living wage, cost of living adjustments or equitable stock options. Right now, wages range between $20 and $30 per hour, plus some Apple stock. Apple retail workers also have access to healthcare and tuition reimbursement benefits.
Earlier this week, Apple's Grand Central Terminal store also took meaningful steps toward forming a union, beginning the card-signing process. Calling themselves the Fruit Stand Workers United (FSWU), these New York-based employees launched a website designed to educate their fellow workers about why they want to unionize their store.
“Year over year, the cost of living in New York City has not kept pace with our wages,” the FSWU’s mission statement reads. “Meanwhile, Apple has grown to be the most valuable company in the world. Why should its retail workers live precariously?”