Unionization efforts have been growing more and more prevalent nationwide. Workers employed by mega corporations like Starbucks, Amazon, and Google have been making headlines as they attempt to enact their rights and vie for union support. Amid the increased unionization momentum, Apple Retail workers from numerous stores have banded together to join the conquest. Now, according to the Associated Press, Apple retail workers in Maryland accomplished the first step in making unionizing a reality at their store.
The vote to unionize occurred in Towson, Maryland where Apple retail workers voted 65 to 33 in favor of unionization. The Apple employees are seeking representation from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. The vote represents the first big step in what will amount to a long and drawn out process.
While this positive milestone that signals the first steps towards unionization should certainly be celebrated, it in no way guarantees that those Apple retail workers in Maryland will be successful in their pursuits. Michael Duff, who works as a former NLRB lawyer and professor at the University of Wyoming College of Law, highlighted that “Labor law in the United States is a long process.” And unfortunately, a lot of those laws favor establishments and not workers. Duff also explained that even if the Apple retail workers employed at that sole Maryland store are successful in attaining representation, it in no ways sets a universal precedent that workers at other Apple stores can expect the same outcome should they choose to pursue a similar avenue.
That being said, even though Apple Retail workers face significant challenges ahead in making their union push a reality, John Logan, who works as the director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University, thinks that the fact that this push and others are happening at publicly visible corporations like Apple is the very thing that unionization efforts need in order to be successful. “The public has a very direct relationship with companies like Apple, so the first union victory will generate enormous traditional media and social media coverage,” Logan said via AP News. Duff echoed Logan’s sentiments, “…if there is going to be a reawakened labor movement in the United States it will happen in just this way,” said Duff.
The swathes of workers seeking unionization at present, including those Apple retail workers, represent a larger undercurrent in the country. The pandemic served to cause many workers to reevaluate their priorities. That served as the catalyst for a big power shift from businesses to workers. This shift became even more prevalent as the job market rebounded and unemployment sunk to historic lows. This unique set of circumstances is what is fueling worker confidence and allowing traditionally muted voices to be heard. Moreover, while unionization efforts have been emerging across the board, much of it is being led by young activists, suggesting that the next generation of workers is primed and ready to advocate for the way they deserve to be treated on the job.
All in all, there is still a long way to go and a lot of roadblocks ahead for the Apple retail workers in Maryland and those seeking union representation in general. The coming months and years will serve to reveal whether their efforts were to avail or not. And in a market where recession fears are being compounded daily by additional mitigating factors, a cloud of uncertainty is the only tangibility that looms at present.