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Will Unionization Seeds Sprout at Apple NYC Flagship?

Apple associates at the retailer’s flagship Grand Central Terminal location in Manhattan have begun to formally collect signatures to form a union, according to a post on the organizers’ website. The group, called “Fruit Stand Workers United,” voted on Feb. 21, 2022 to affiliate with Workers United, the same union that has supported unionization efforts at Starbucks.

Members of Fruit Stand Workers United told The Washington Post that pay has failed to keep up with inflation and that some workers are reportedly dealing with difficult working conditions, such as an inability to hold managers accountable for unfair or abusive practices. At least three other Apple retail locations reportedly are in the process of joining the union as well.

“Grand Central is an extraordinary store with unique working conditions that make a union necessary to ensure our team has the best possible standards of living in what have proven to be extraordinary times with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and once-in-a-generation consumer price inflation,” said a Fruit Stand Workers United statement on its website.

The group has accused Apple of union=busting efforts, but the retailer itself has yet to take a public stand on the unionization effort.

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“We are fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple,” said Apple in a statement. “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 stock grants and many other benefits.”

The retail unionization effort reportedly has support from some workers in the corporate offices, which has been undergoing its own push for better working conditions. Office employees have launched a site, Apple Together, as well as staged a walkout on Dec. 24, 2021, in support of retail associates.

Fruit Stand Workers United’s efforts reflect a larger wave of change in retail that has impacted several companies. The largest and so far most successful unionization push has come from Starbucks, where as many as 16 stores have voted to unionize, with more elections on the horizon. Additionally, while only the Amazon facility on Staten Island has voted to form a union, that warehouse alone could impact more than 8,000 workers, and 1,800 FreshDirect employees have joined the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

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