Earlier this year, we told you about how workers pushed organizing “firsts” into motion for several corporate giants in the wake of union-activity at Starbucks. Sure enough, the media’s search for the next Starbucksbegan, and for a moment in time, it looked as though workers at multiple Apple locations aimed to win the dubious title. Word slipped out that the tech giant’s retail workers began to secretly organize (while covertly using Android devices) amid reports of workplace unease.
In June, a Towson, Maryland store became Apple’s first unionized retail store in the U.S. with workers forming the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE) as part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). Very quickly, Workers United and the Communications Workers of America launched a coordinated effort to scoop up additional Apple retail locations. Yet the movement soon appeared to fade away with news that Apple retail stores hiked starting pay to $22 per hour.
Fast forward to October, and the Apple organizing effort has been slow going, but a second U.S. Apple retail location (in Oklahoma City) voted to unionize while dubbing themselves the Penn Square Labor Alliance as part of the CWA. Will this prompt more workers at the other 270 Apple U.S. retail stores to follow suit? Apple retail workers in Atlanta already attempted as much (in May) but withdrew an NLRB request for a vote (while citing too many workers ill with Covid-19). They could very well try again.
One more twist: Apple made a Starbucks-esque move while declaring that newly amped-up, company-wide benefits will not apply to Towson retail workers as the union and company prepare to meet at the bargaining table.
Here’s a fresh batch of additional organizing news of note:
- Geico workers in Amherst, New York are organizing as Geico United (which aims to exist as an independent union) with the goal of forming the insurance company’s first unionized call center. Organizers voiced concerns over pay rates and erratic work schedules.
- Starbucks Workers United currently claims 235+ unionized locations with more brewing. Workers at a Brooklyn cafe went on a headline-making strike, and an NLRB judge ruled that Starbucks broke federal law by asking police to remove picketing workers in Kansas and Missouri. The judge also ruled that several fired union organizers must receive their jobs back, along with back pay. However, an independent watchdog declared that it will audit the NLRB election procedure after Starbucks accused the board of misconduct and interference during the mail-in processes of two union elections.
- Chicago Field Museum workers are gathering signatures for a vote while organizing as Field Museum Workers United. They hope to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which already counts 25,000 members who work at various museums and libraries.
- The UAW still aims to recover from their dwindling-dues issue by further targeting academia. To that end, the union is holding “mass meetings” while pushing for higher pay for approximately 48,000 graduate student workers at the University of California’s 10 campuses.
- Amazon, which has faced five union elections and successfully fended off all but one, recently saw organizers push for a $30 hourly wage at the ALB1 warehouse in Albany, New York. ALB1 workers, however, voted against joining the Amazon Labor Union. In addition, Business Insider published a telling report, which shows the lengths that unions will go to while attempting to court Amazon workers. The publication quotes an Ironworkers union organizer who even obtained a drone pilot license in order to spy on warehouses and gather dirt.