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Apple Store in Oklahoma City Becomes Second to Unionize

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Apple employees in Oklahoma City stores voted to unionize, making it the second of the company’s nearly 270 US retail stores to do so.

Results released by the National Labor Relations Board on Friday night showed that the union’s first win at a Towson, Md. store in June was not an isolated development in an organizing campaign dating back last year. suggests.

According to the Labor Relations Commission, 56 employees voted for the union and 32 voted against it. Communications Workers of America, whose members include media companies such as AT&T Mobility, Verizon and The New York Times, represent workers, and in recent years have sought to represent workers in the tech industry.

In a statement, Sarah Stephens, the union’s treasurer secretary, said workers at the store, known as the Penn Square location, faced aggressive anti-union campaigns, but she said: predicted as , especially after this momentous victory. “

“We believe an open, direct and collaborative relationship with our valued team members is the best way to deliver a great experience for our customers and teams,” Apple said in a statement. increase.

In interviews, store employees said their salaries had improved over the past few months, with solid benefits like health care, stock grants and paid family leave. recently raised Raised the minimum starting salary in stores to $22 an hour and announced a 45% increase in starting salaries in the U.S. starting in 2018.

However, workers complained that supervisors’ decisions about hiring, salaries and work assignments were often opaque, and said the union would bring greater transparency to their stores.

Leigha Briscoe, a sales organizing employee, said she was given very different jobs in the first year of the pandemic, with little explanation for the gap, as employees often worked from home. rice field.

“Some people make posters or paint at home, and others are on the phone eight hours a day,” says Briscoe. “There was a lack of clarity about what the plan was.”

Employees also cited confusion about how to get promotions in stores.

“Some people have been in their current job for years trying to get a promotion and not really seeing results, but every time I get feedback in a promotion interview, it gives me a very subjective goal.” organization that helps oversee the repair room of

Forsyth said employees were sometimes told to work “customer-centric,” but not specific suggestions, such as “Aim for an average customer satisfaction score of 80% over a three-week period.” It was not given.

Forsythe said he first came up with the idea of ​​forming a union late last year when employees began to object to management’s plan to bring them back to the office. The protests turned into a widespread campaign known as #AppleToo, which sought to highlight various workplace issues, including harassment and pay disparities, and came to Forsyth’s attention.

In April, the Atlanta store filed a petition for a union election, and Mr. Forsythe and other employees at the Oklahoma City store began discussing union formation.

The Atlanta store later withdrew its petition, weakening support for the union, as the company announced pay increases and emphasized the benefits it offered and the potential cost of forming a union.

But by then Oklahoma City stores had formed organizing committees and more employees were showing interest in unions.Oklahoma City workers filed a petition Early September.

According to employees, supervisors responded to the campaign by holding roundtables and one-on-one conversations to address the union’s negatives, such as the membership fees workers must pay and the potential loss of profits during the union’s term. face is emphasized. negotiation process. According to these employees, supervisors also said having a union makes it harder for them to change workplace arrangements when they need updating, like the pandemic.

An employee at the Oklahoma City store said the market leader and manager who oversees several locations was in the store regularly during campaigns, even though they typically only meet a few times a year. rice field.

Patrick Hart, a store employee who helps customers solve problems with their products, said the company’s He said the impact of the response would be limited.

“We are all very educated people,” Hart said. “Apple hires a certain kind of people.

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