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Atlanta Apple Store’s Workers Become Company’s First to Formally Request a Union

Atlanta Apple Store Workers Company First Formally Request Union

Apple retail store workers at the Cumberland Mall location in Atlanta filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on April 20, 2022, with 70% of the group of more than 100 eligible employees signing union authorization cards. This store’s employees become the first within the company’s U.S. operations to demand formal union recognition. The Communications Workers of America union announced the filing.

Apple salespeople, technicians, creatives and operations specialists are seeking equitable pay and benefits. In a press release, the group noted that Apple’s retail workers “provide critical sales and repair services to a range of customers, yet have been denied a living wage, cost of living adjustments or equitable stock options.”

Recently, associates from the Apple New York flagship at Grand Central Terminal began collecting signatures to form a union, according to a website representing the group, which is named Fruit Stand Workers United. The company’s office employees have formed the group Apple Together to support their retail colleagues.

“A number of us have been here for many years, and we don’t think you stick at a place unless you love it,” said Derrick Bowles, Apple Genius worker and union member in a statement. “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.”

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The unionization momentum at Apple, Amazon and Fresh Direct comes as the fight between workers and Starbucks is turning messy. Former and now interim CEO Howard Schultz reportedly told the Wall Street Journal that the company is working on improving worker benefits — but that they would not apply to unionized Starbucks cafés. Starbucks has filed complaints with the NLRB citing federal labor law violations by unionizing baristas, and has been the target of complaints from Workers United, a Service Employees International Union affiliate that has accused the company of union-busting. The NLRB also has filed its own complaints against Starbucks.

The conflicts, and the apparent contradiction of a brand known for its liberal leanings fighting hard against unionization, may be behind Starbucks’ falling share price. According to CNBC, Starbucks stock dropped 12% since April 4, when Schultz returned to the company as interim CEO following the retirement of former CEO Kevin Johnson.

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