A group of Apple employees calling themselves the Fruit Stand Workers United have announced their intention to try to form a legally-recognized union at Apple's Grand Central flagship store in Manhattan.
If successful, the FSWU would become the first group of unionized Apple employees. The Apple workers have affiliated themselves with Workers United, the national union that has successfully led more than 20 Starbucks stores to unionize so far (and hundreds more in earlier stages in the process). Workers at the JFK8 Amazon facility in Staten Island have also paralleled the unusual success of the Starbucks union movement, voting to form the first group of unionized Amazon workers earlier this month. Amazon plans to challenge the result of that election, and a second election with another group of workers in another Staten Island facility is scheduled to begin April 25.
The workers already affiliated with the FSWU must convince at least 30% of their retail peers at the Grand Central location to sign union interest affiliation cards, which would then trigger a formal union election administered by the National Labor Relations Board if Apple does not voluntarily recognize the union.
“We are fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple. 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," an Apple spokesperson wrote in a statement to Protocol.
If successful in its unionization efforts, the FSWU plans to demand higher salaries and benefits, including a minimum wage of $30/hour (Apple's current minimum sits at $20/hr for retail workers) and increased tuition reimbursements and 401(k) matches. "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," the workers wrote on their newly launched union website.
"Hourly wage workers across the country have come to the realization that without organizing for a collective voice, employers will continue to ignore their concerns in the workplace. Workers from every single worksite, be they from Starbucks or Amazon or Apple, have spent years repeatedly expressing their concerns in the workplace — concerns about safety, their well-being, how to improve and make the workplace better — but management have ignored or done little to address the challenges workers face," Workers United wrote in a statement to Protocol.