The labor movement sweeping the United States notched another win Friday when workers in Oklahoma City voted to become the second unionized Apple Store in the nation, following the first victory in Maryland earlier this year.
Citing a preliminary tally from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), CNN reported that 88 of 95 workers at the Penn Square Mall store weighed in, and 56 of them—or 64%—voted to be represented by Communication Workers of America (CWA).
“We felt like we had the majority support, and as long a people got out and cast their vote, we would win,” Leigha Briscoe, a 28-year-old on the organizing committee at the store, told CNN after the ballots were counted.
Noting the June vote in Maryland and a stalled effort in Atlanta, organizers and supporters of the Oklahoma City campaign celebrated on social media:
LET’S GO!!!!! @pennsquarelabor has officially won their NLRB vote. First Apple store to unionize with @CODE_CWA @CWAUnion and second unionized Apple store in the entire U.S. Thank you to everyone who stood by us and supported this campaign since Atlanta. ONWARD 🍎✊🌱 #unionYES
— Apple Retail Union (@Apple_Union) October 15, 2022
We woke up with Weingarten rights this morning, pretty awesome feeling if you ask. #unionYES #1u pic.twitter.com/40Ejjw48Aq
— Penn Square Labor Alliance (@pennsquarelabor) October 15, 2022
“Let me congratulate the Apple Store workers in Oklahoma City for voting to become the second unionized Apple Store in the U.S.” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “Last year, Apple made a record $95 billion profit. Its billionaire CEO made $99 million in 2021. It’s time for Apple to treat its workers with respect.”
According to the Penn Square Labor Alliance (PSLA), supporters of the union drive are working toward fair compensation, career development, bonuses and benefits that align with those of corporate employees, hiring from under-represented communities, labor conditions that respect health and well-being, improved safety, and “an influential role in decision-making to ensure our daily operations match our publicly stated values, flexibility to allow for civic participation, and opportunities for paid volunteer work.”
Congratulations to Apple workers in Oklahoma City who just won their union election to join CWA! 🥳 https://t.co/bkVnor6lTS
— CWA (@CWAUnion) October 15, 2022
Apple employee and PSLA organizer Michael Forsythe told Public Radio Tulsa earlier this week that his store’s campaign was also supported by local Starbucks workers fighting for unions. “I really hope that this kind of reinvigorates the labor movement further and gets more locations, whether it’s Apple or not, whether it’s local Trader Joe’s or Home Depots, whatever it is,” Forsythe added. “I hope more people start fighting to take their seat at the table. And I hope that we can show up and do what we can in solidarity to support them.”
Congratulations to @Apple_Union for winning the second unionized Apple Store in OKC!!!
We stand with you! 💚❤️ pic.twitter.com/CdffVuNXWN
— SBWorkersUnited (@SBWorkersUnited) October 15, 2022
THEY WON! Out here supporting the 2nd unionize Apple Store in the US! @pennsquarelabor pic.twitter.com/B4s5fekrCv
— OKCSBXUNITED (@okcsbxunited) October 15, 2022
Public Radio Tulsa noted that Apple has received union-busting complaints from both the PSLA and the NLRB.
More Perfect Union reported in early October that “Oklahoma City workers say they’ve faced a series of escalating anti-union tactics from management, including regular one-on-one ‘walk and talk’ conversations between managers and workers, roundtable discussions about unionization, and, most recently, an influx of additional managers in the store.”
The lopsided 56-32 victory for Apple Store workers is especially remarkable given Apple management’s union-busting.
In formal NLRB charges, OKC workers say Apple illegally threatened, surveilled and interrogated them ahead of the vote. https://t.co/zTUd1lnGI6
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) October 15, 2022
Apple employee and union organizer Kevin Herrera told News 9 this week that “there’s definitely been meetings, there’s been walks and talks. There’s been instances where I have even felt under the pressure, under the stress and it’s really hard to navigate those meetings.”
The organizer highlighted workers’ desire fore a clearer path the move up in the company, saying that “it takes abiout an average of three years for my peers and my colleagues to transition into a full-time role. I don’t know about anyone else but I find it hard to support a family on a part-time income.”
Herrera also said he wants to ensure fellow Spanish speakers “can have the same experience as our English speakers have” when they come in to shop, noting that on Mother’s Day, “I had a line of one hour and a half people waiting to speak to me because I was the only bilingual speaker in the store at the time.”
Workers at the Oklahoma City Apple Store voted 56-32 to have union representation. They are only the second Apple store crew to win their vote so far.
— @AlexReportsOKC has the story@CODE_CWA @pennsquarelaborhttps://t.co/GdJ9fDOYCk
— Okla City Free Press (@FreePressOKC) October 15, 2022
Asked to comment on the Friday’s development, Apple said in a statement to CNN that “we believe the open, direct, and collaborative relationship we have with our valued team members is the best way to provide an excellent experience for our customers, and for our teams.”
“We’re proud to provide our team members with strong compensation and exceptional benefits,” the company added. “Since 2018, we’ve increased our starting rates in the U.S. by 45% and we’ve made many significant enhancements to our industry-leading benefits.”
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