Biden says he is ‘proud’ of Apple retail workers who unionized

President Joe Biden said he was “proud” of Apple’s retail workers in Towson, Maryland, who voted this weekend to form the first-ever labor union at one of the tech giant’s US stores.

“I’m proud of them,” the President told reporters from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Monday. “Workers have a right to determine under what conditions they’re going to work or not work.”
Biden, who has also recently met with union organizers from Amazon (AMZN) and Starbucks (SBUX), added that “everybody is better off, including the final product” because of labor unions
Apple (AAPL) store employees at the Towson Town Center, a mall near Baltimore, voted by a nearly two-to-one margin to form a union, according to Saturday’s tally from the National Labor Relations Board.
Organizers are calling their union the Apple Coalition of Organized Retail Employees, or AppleCORE for short, and have garnered support from the larger International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers trade union.
The Machinists Union thanked Biden for his support on Monday. “Worker power is spreading across the country,” the union said in a tweet.

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An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNN Business’ request for comment Monday. “We are fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple,” the company said in a previous 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.”
One worker-organizer at the Maryland Apple store told CNN Business shortly after the vote count on Saturday that forming a union at Apple was in large part about having a seat at the table. “Compensation is important, considering the cost of living in general and inflation, but the bigger thing is having a say,” Christie Pridgen, a technical expert at the store and one of the organizers, said. “That was the most important thing to me.”
The unionization efforts at Apple come amid a broader movement of workplace activism that emerged during the pandemic. The health crisis put a new spotlight on worker safety in the United States as well as on concerns over pay and equity within the tech sector, specifically. Meanwhile, a tight labor market has given employees new leverage to bargain with their employers.
Last month, the President shared a video of his meeting with Amazon Labor Union leader Chris Smalls shortly after the union’s landmark win at one of the e-commerce company’s facilities in Staten Island.
“Chris Smalls is making good trouble and helping inspire a new movement of labor organizing across the country,” the President wrote on Twitter. “Let’s keep it going.”
President Joe Biden had some words of encouragement Monday for Apple Store workers who just formed the company’s first retail union.

“I’m proud of them,” the president said, according to the White House pool report. “Workers have a right to determine under what conditions they’re gonna work or not. And I think the thing that everybody kind of misunderstands about unions, they tend to be, especially in the trades, the best workers in the world.”

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers easily won an election at the company’s Towson Center store outside Baltimore last week, where workers voted 65-33 in favor of joining the union, according to a vote count held Saturday by the National Labor Relations Board. Apple has a week to file any challenges to the election.

The election results at Apple follow similar groundbreaking victories for the labor movement at Starbucks, Amazon and REI in recent months. The string of high-profile wins has union leaders and supporters hoping for a turnaround, with union membership now at a low of just 6.1% in the private sector.

Biden has used the bully pulpit to promote unionism, and in a speech last week at the convention of the AFL-CIO labor federation, Biden reaffirmed his vow to be “the most pro-union president” ever. “I promised you I would be, and I commit to you: As long I have this job, I will remain that,” he said.

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Biden has indeed shown a level of public union support that few, if any, of his predecessors have. In a speech last year, he blasted companies that try to interfere in union elections, just as Amazon was holding captive-audience meetings to dissuade workers form unionizing. And after workers won a union election at a warehouse in New York earlier this year, Biden said, “Amazon, here we come.”

In the case of Apple, organizing campaigns are already brewing at other retail locations in New York and Atlanta, and the decisive vote in Maryland could encourage workers at other locations to petition the labor board to hold votes.

Employees at the Towson store sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook last month saying they had “come together as a union because of a deep love of our role as workers within the company and out of care for the company itself.” Apple opposed the organizing effort, and store managers had encouraged workers to vote against the union.

In the case of Apple, organizing campaigns are already brewing at other retail locations in New York and Atlanta, and the decisive vote in Maryland could encourage workers at other locations to petition the labor board to hold votes.

Employees at the Towson store sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook last month saying they had “come together as a union because of a deep love of our role as workers within the company and out of care for the company itself.” Apple opposed the organizing effort, and store managers had encouraged workers to vote against the union.

 

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