Apple retail employees in Atlanta have filed to hold a union election, Bloomberg Law reported Wednesday, making the Cumberland Mall Apple Store location the first of the company's more than 270 stores in the U.S. to do so.
The proposed union, which would be called the Apple Workers Union, would have 107 workers. Around 70% of the store's workers signed cards in support of the election, and plan to file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board Wednesday afternoon. The effort is backed by the Communication Workers of America.
“Right now, I think, is the right time because we simply see momentum swinging the way of workers,” Cumberland Apple Store employee and union organizer Derrick Bowles told Bloomberg Law. “As we sat back and re-evaluated, what we realized is that we love being at Apple — and leaving Apple, that’s not something any of us wants to do. But improving it is something we wanted to do.”
The move comes after a group of Apple Store employees at the Grand Central flagship store in Manhattan on Monday announced their intention to try to form a legally-recognized union. The group, which calls itself the Fruit Stand Workers United, have to convince at least 30% of their retail peers at the Grand Central location to sign union interest affiliation cards.
Both groups aim to raise base wages, with the Atlanta location seeking a $28 per hour starting wage and Manhattan store seeking $30 per hour, up from the $20 per hour base pay Apple currently offers retail employees. The Manhattan store is also asking for better benefits, including increased tuition reimbursements and 401(k) matches. Reports of unionization efforts at Apple retail locations first emerged in February, with two then-unnamed stores planning to file union paperwork with the NLRB.
“Somebody has got to be the first to do something,” Bowles told Bloomberg Law. “Being first doesn’t matter to us — doing it is what matters to us. And if we have to be first we will be first.”
Tech company employees have in recent months been organizing for improved working conditions. This month, Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island formed the company's first union following a hard fight to organize in the face of Amazon's pushback. Google Fiber contract employees also successfully unionized in late March, becoming the Alphabet Workers Union's first recognized bargaining unit.