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Apple store in Maryland

The Apple Store at the Towson Town Center mall in Maryland was the first of the company's retail locations in the U.S. to unionize. Following that June victory, workers at an Oklahoma City location voted to form a second union on October 14, 2022. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

'We Won!': Workers Vote to Become Second Unionized US Apple Store

Congratulating the Oklahoma City organizers, Sen. Bernie Sanders said that "it's time for Apple to treat its workers with respect."

Jessica Corbett

The labor movement sweeping the United States notched another win Friday when workers in Oklahoma City voted to become the second unionized Apple Store in the nation, following the first victory in Maryland earlier this year.

Citing a preliminary tally from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), CNN reported that 88 of 95 workers at the Penn Square Mall store weighed in, and 56 of them—or 64%—voted to be represented by Communication Workers of America (CWA).

"We felt like we had the majority support, and as long a people got out and cast their vote, we would win," Leigha Briscoe, a 28-year-old on the organizing committee at the store, told CNN after the ballots were counted.

Noting the June vote in Maryland and a stalled effort in Atlanta, organizers and supporters of the Oklahoma City campaign celebrated on social media:

"Let me congratulate the Apple Store workers in Oklahoma City for voting to become the second unionized Apple Store in the U.S." tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "Last year, Apple made a record $95 billion profit. Its billionaire CEO made $99 million in 2021. It's time for Apple to treat its workers with respect."

According to the Penn Square Labor Alliance (PSLA), supporters of the union drive are working toward fair compensation, career development, bonuses and benefits that align with those of corporate employees, hiring from under-represented communities, labor conditions that respect health and well-being, improved safety, and "an influential role in decision-making to ensure our daily operations match our publicly stated values, flexibility to allow for civic participation, and opportunities for paid volunteer work."

Apple employee and PSLA organizer Michael Forsythe told Public Radio Tulsa earlier this week that his store's campaign was also supported by local Starbucks workers fighting for unions.

"I really hope that this kind of reinvigorates the labor movement further and gets more locations, whether it's Apple or not, whether it's local Trader Joe's or Home Depots, whatever it is," Forsythe added. "I hope more people start fighting to take their seat at the table. And I hope that we can show up and do what we can in solidarity to support them."

Public Radio Tulsa noted that Apple has received union-busting complaints from both the PSLA and the NLRB.

More Perfect Union reported in early October that "Oklahoma City workers say they've faced a series of escalating anti-union tactics from management, including regular one-on-one 'walk and talk' conversations between managers and workers, roundtable discussions about unionization, and, most recently, an influx of additional managers in the store."

Apple employee and union organizer Kevin Herrera told News 9 this week that "there's definitely been meetings, there's been walks and talks. There's been instances where I have even felt under the pressure, under the stress and it's really hard to navigate those meetings."

The organizer highlighted workers' desire fore a clearer path the move up in the company, saying that "it takes abiout an average of three years for my peers and my colleagues to transition into a full-time role. I don't know about anyone else but I find it hard to support a family on a part-time income."

Herrera also said he wants to ensure fellow Spanish speakers "can have the same experience as our English speakers have" when they come in to shop, noting that on Mother's Day, "I had a line of one hour and a half people waiting to speak to me because I was the only bilingual speaker in the store at the time."

Asked to comment on the Friday's development, Apple said in a statement to CNN that "we believe the open, direct, and collaborative relationship we have with our valued team members is the best way to provide an excellent experience for our customers, and for our teams."

"We're proud to provide our team members with strong compensation and exceptional benefits," the company added. "Since 2018, we've increased our starting rates in the U.S. by 45% and we've made many significant enhancements to our industry-leading benefits."

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