Maryland Apple Store staff vote in favor of strike action

Posted:
in General Discussion

Workers at the Apple Towson Town Center store in Maryland have backed their union's plan to hold a strike over unresolved issues.

Apple Towson Town Center store (Source: Apple)
Apple Towson Town Center store (Source: Apple)



The Towson store unionized in 2022, and representatives had said they were disheartened by what were described as Apple's insufficient responses to concerns. Unions at the store conducted an independent survey early in 2024 and reported on alleged illegal anti-union activities by Apple.

Now according to CNBC, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (AIM) union says workers at the store have voted in favor of authorizing a strike. "The issues at the forefront of this action include concerns over work-life balance," said the union in a statement, "unpredictable scheduling practices disrupting personal lives, and wages failing to align with the area's cost of living."

The vote was to give the union the mandate to strike, rather than over specifics such as dates. With that mandate, the union will now determine a date for work stoppage, unless Apple's response means a strike is no longer considered necessary.

"We will engage with the union representing our team in Towson respectfully and in good faith," said an Apple spokeswoman.

Previously, Apple has been vehemently against the practice of unionizing in its stores. Apple retail chief Deirdre O'Brien has said that putting "another organization in the middle of our relationship [with retal staff] could fundamentally change the company's "open and collaborative and direct engagement."

However, retail staff have questioned that description of the relationship between Apple and its workers. One staff member summarized the working conditions by saying that complaining to Apple is "like writing a letter to Santa."



Read on AppleInsider

40domiFileMakerFeller
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    It’s one store shut it down and move on. 
    40domiwilliamhtimpetusjib
  • Reply 2 of 31
    40domi40domi Posts: 99member
    Apple should make an example of them, let them strike, bring in staff from other stores (or shut it down) we'll see how they feel after a couple of months without pay (probably too stupid to realise they won't get paid)
    As far as retail is concerned, probably the best job going and they get 40% discounts, so can make money on the side, by buying and selling stuff!
    100 years ago, even 50 years ago, workers generally were poorly paid and treated, now with all the laws, Unions just scam workers 😡
    Panner_Nuddingtimpetusjib
  • Reply 3 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,278member
    40domi said:
    Apple should make an example of them, let them strike, bring in staff from other stores (or shut it down) we'll see how they feel after a couple of months without pay (probably too stupid to realise they won't get paid)
    As far as retail is concerned, probably the best job going and they get 40% discounts, so can make money on the side, by buying and selling stuff!
    100 years ago, even 50 years ago, workers generally were poorly paid and treated, now with all the laws, Unions just scam workers ߘ᦬t;/div>
    Yeah, teach those whiny ingrates! Apple owes them nothing, and doesn't need to listen to clueless hourly employees. Apple is the Alpha and needs to show them what that means.

    It's a shame Apple enforcers can't take 'em out and beat 'em like union busters used to do. It's Apple's store and they can treat employees however they wish. Don't like it? Quit and work someplace else. /s
    edited May 12 muthuk_vanalingamxyzzy01hammeroftruthVictorMortimerchasmnubusronnFileMakerFelleravon b7beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 4 of 31
    It doesn't surprise me that Apple isn't negotiating in good faith.  Hopefully the threat of a strike will be enough that Apple takes them seriously.

    All of retail needs to unionize.  Retail workers have been abused for far too long.
    brianussphericronngrandact73sconosciuto
  • Reply 5 of 31
    brianusbrianus Posts: 164member

    However, retail staff have questioned that description of the relationship between Apple and its workers. One staff member summarized the working conditions by saying that complaining to Apple is "like writing a letter to Santa." 

    Funny.. that is exactly what it’s like as a customer, sending Apple feedback or attempting bug reports.

    I love the products but there is a toxic attitude here that needs to be challenged, and it obviously affects more than just customers. It’s ashame this is just one store, which will make it fairly easy for Apple to ignore. 
    ronn
  • Reply 6 of 31
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,830member
    It doesn't surprise me that Apple isn't negotiating in good faith.  Hopefully the threat of a strike will be enough that Apple takes them seriously.

    All of retail needs to unionize.  Retail workers have been abused for far too long.
    Please....it's not like they aren't paid well for retail. They can always leave if they don't like where they work. Someone is there waiting to fill their shoes. 
    williamhdewmetimpetusjib
  • Reply 7 of 31
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,335member
    macxpress said:
    Please....it's not like they aren't paid well for retail. They can always leave if they don't like where they work. Someone is there waiting to fill their shoes. 
    Ackshully ... there's not. Businesses are very seriously hurting for workers in retail generally right now, primarily because they won't pay what it costs to live in retail areas in most cities, and also because customers have generally become stupider, more belligerent, and more prone to harassment and other unacceptable behaviour.

    In addition to this, Apple Stores require well-spoken, well-groomed, intelligent employees with vast and yet often deep technical knowledge generally, top-notch customer relation skills, and very specific knowledge about all of Apple's current and most of their past products, common issues, and more.

    These are skills that should be valued and paid accordingly. Apple pays better than McDonald's, sure, but not that much better. And there's much more that needs to be addressed beyond just pay. As noted in these stories, people have kids, they have families, they have health conditions. They're asking for things like regular schedules so they can fit their personal lives reliably around work, and pay that reflects the cost of living nearby where they work


    gatorguysphericsir_pabloronnBlizzardNotSoMuchnubusFileMakerFellergrandact73sconosciuto
  • Reply 8 of 31

    I was unfortunately fired from Apple retail a few years ago. The reason given for my termination was that I "may have violated policy" by refusing to sign documents that would provide Apple with my medical records. I believe that I had a right to privacy and that I should not have been forced to disclose my medical information to my employer.

    I'm glad to see that Apple workers are now unionized and have more power to protect their rights. I hope that my experience can help to raise awareness about the importance of worker protections.

    ronnNotSoMuchnubusFileMakerFellersphericgrandact73sconosciuto
  • Reply 9 of 31
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,830member
    chasm said:
    macxpress said:
    Please....it's not like they aren't paid well for retail. They can always leave if they don't like where they work. Someone is there waiting to fill their shoes. 
    Ackshully ... there's not. Businesses are very seriously hurting for workers in retail generally right now, primarily because they won't pay what it costs to live in retail areas in most cities, and also because customers have generally become stupider, more belligerent, and more prone to harassment and other unacceptable behaviour.

    In addition to this, Apple Stores require well-spoken, well-groomed, intelligent employees with vast and yet often deep technical knowledge generally, top-notch customer relation skills, and very specific knowledge about all of Apple's current and most of their past products, common issues, and more.

    These are skills that should be valued and paid accordingly. Apple pays better than McDonald's, sure, but not that much better. And there's much more that needs to be addressed beyond just pay. As noted in these stories, people have kids, they have families, they have health conditions. They're asking for things like regular schedules so they can fit their personal lives reliably around work, and pay that reflects the cost of living nearby where they work


    They are paid accordingly. They also get benefits as well. This is not professional position...it's retail. And trust me, if someone leaves tomorrow there WILL be someone waiting to come in. Again, this isn't corporate Apple, this is retail where they won't have an issue replacing someone. 
    timpetus
  • Reply 10 of 31
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,415member
    Without picking a side on this the only thing I can say is that once the store employees in question joined the Union they handed over personal control and negotiating power from themselves to their Union. If they have a beef with Apple they need to take their grievances to their union representatives. Their union representatives are the ones who need to be actively negotiating with Apple to secure a better deal for union members, e.g., cost of living adjustments, more flexible work schedules, opportunity for advancement, etc. 

    It sounds like Apple is living up to their side of the deal and funneling all of their negotiations through the union representatives. They are holding up their end of the deal.

    At the same time those who have "hired" the Union to represent their own best interests are voicing their grievances to the public and at Apple directly, i.e., the "letter to Santa" analogy. Apple isn't Santa, and more so, Apple is no longer authorized to respond directly to union members. Waiting for a response directly from Apple is an exercise in futility. What I would ask if I were a represented employee is "what is the union really doing for me?" If you're paying Union dues and the Union isn't delivering the goods for you, maybe I should be looking for someone else who can deliver real results. Those who join a Union are relinquishing their ability to directly hold Apple accountable. The accountability shifts to the Union. The Unions made a promise to their members and they are obligated to follow through on their promise. Hold them accountable and fire them if they fail to perform. They must do a lot more than simply agitate.

    I do understand the notion that collective bargaining gives those in the collective more clout than any single individual would have, at least in theory. But if that theory isn't translating into a bottom line reality, maybe those involved need to consider taking another approach, like finding better representation or regaining personal responsibility. Apple has an immense ability to absorb any losses associated with workers walking out, or even closing stores. If nobody shows up to work, they can afford to close those stores, temporarily or permanently. Everyone has to consider their own odds of staying gainfully employed going forward with some consideration for probable outcomes they are aware of. The only job security you really ever have as an employee is your ability to get another job. You have to invest in yourself continuously even when there are no guarantees. If you join a Union with an expectation that you can simply coast along or no longer invest in yourself because the Union is your safety net, all I can say is that I wish you all the best. 
    timpetusteejay2012
  • Reply 11 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,278member
    dewme said:
    Without picking a side on this the only thing I can say is that once the store employees in question joined the Union they handed over personal control and negotiating power from themselves to their Union. If they have a beef with Apple they need to take their grievances to their union representatives. Their union representatives are the ones who need to be actively negotiating with Apple to secure a better deal for union members, e.g., cost of living adjustments, more flexible work schedules, opportunity for advancement, etc. 

    It sounds like Apple is living up to their side of the deal and funneling all of their negotiations through the union representatives. They are holding up their end of the deal.
    Very first line in this article:
    "Workers at the Apple Towson Town Center store in Maryland have backed their union's plan to hold a strike over unresolved issues.

    The employees are holding up their end of the bargain too, and supporting their union negotiators. 
    ronnFileMakerFellersconosciuto
  • Reply 12 of 31
    BlizzardBlizzard Posts: 41member
    macxpress said:
    They are paid accordingly. They also get benefits as well. This is not professional position...it's retail. And trust me, if someone leaves tomorrow there WILL be someone waiting to come in. Again, this isn't corporate Apple, this is retail where they won't have an issue replacing someone. 
    Why does it have to be a professional position?  If someone leaves Apple corporate, guess what, there will be someone waiting to come in for that corporate position. 

    Apple won't have an issue replacing someone at corporate either.
    muthuk_vanalingamsphericsconosciuto
  • Reply 13 of 31
    NotSoMuchNotSoMuch Posts: 24member
    40domi said:
    Apple should make an example of them, let them strike, bring in staff from other stores (or shut it down) we'll see how they feel after a couple of months without pay (probably too stupid to realise they won't get paid)
    As far as retail is concerned, probably the best job going and they get 40% discounts, so can make money on the side, by buying and selling stuff!
    100 years ago, even 50 years ago, workers generally were poorly paid and treated, now with all the laws, Unions just scam workers 😡
    That was a well thought out and educated comment. 
  • Reply 14 of 31
    nubusnubus Posts: 413member
    macxpress said:
    They are paid accordingly. They also get benefits as well. This is not professional position...it's retail. And trust me, if someone leaves tomorrow there WILL be someone waiting to come in. Again, this isn't corporate Apple, this is retail where they won't have an issue replacing someone. 
    In Europe the Apple employees do unionize and get 5-6 weeks of paid vacation.
    In US we see Apple playing the workers as described by Steinbeck. Is that OK?

    Apple gave us FineWoven to avoid using skins from dead animals.
    Surely Apple can protect the purchasing power of those US employees they pay the least. 

    Current status: Apple will rather save the skin of a dead cow than protect their US employees. To me this is not OK.
    FileMakerFellerronn
  • Reply 15 of 31
    dewme said:
    Without picking a side on this the only thing I can say is that once the store employees in question joined the Union they handed over personal control and negotiating power from themselves to their Union. If they have a beef with Apple they need to take their grievances to their union representatives. Their union representatives are the ones who need to be actively negotiating with Apple to secure a better deal for union members, e.g., cost of living adjustments, more flexible work schedules, opportunity for advancement, etc. 

    It sounds like Apple is living up to their side of the deal and funneling all of their negotiations through the union representatives. They are holding up their end of the deal.

    At the same time those who have "hired" the Union to represent their own best interests are voicing their grievances to the public and at Apple directly, i.e., the "letter to Santa" analogy. Apple isn't Santa, and more so, Apple is no longer authorized to respond directly to union members.
    The article does not make it clear, but from earlier AI posts the "letter to Santa" comment was a description of what it's like being a regular employee at the Apple Store and was a reason for voting to unionise, not a description of post-unionisation conditions.
    gatorguyronn
  • Reply 16 of 31
    40domi said:
    Apple should make an example of them, let them strike, bring in staff from other stores (or shut it down) we'll see how they feel after a couple of months without pay (probably too stupid to realise they won't get paid)
    As far as retail is concerned, probably the best job going and they get 40% discounts, so can make money on the side, by buying and selling stuff!
    100 years ago, even 50 years ago, workers generally were poorly paid and treated, now with all the laws, Unions just scam workers 😡
    I'm not 100% certain that it's the same in the US, but I would be surprised if there is any substantial difference to the benefits I'm aware of for Apple employees in Australia: the maximum discount for a hardware product is 25% and only one product from each category (e.g. Mac, iPad, headphones) may be purchased with that discount in a given calendar year - plus, the device cannot be sold for a minimum of 12 months (difficult to police, but not impossible). Note that there is zero discount available on iPhones. A limited number of 10% discounts on hardware are also available, with the same caveat on resale.

    Employees also have the opportunity to purchase Apple stock at a small discount; I am unaware of any resale caveats there.

    Labour laws differ between countries but I'm pretty sure that firing a unionised employee for going on strike is illegal no matter where you are. So is bringing in replacement workers, except in clearly defined situations that form part of the agreement between the union and the employer.

    Apple is powerful enough and has the money to pay the penalty for any illegal activity it might engage in relating to its employees, and the company has certainly been found guilty of illegal behaviour in the past (e.g. Steve Jobs' wage-fixing and anti-poaching agreements with other tech giants back in the day), so I think the collective strength of a union is a justifiable consideration for all employees of the company.

    But the company also goes to great lengths to treat employees well. Nobody in retail was laid off during COVID despite the stores being closed, there is ongoing training and, yes, the employee discounts. In return it wants maximum effort and maximum obedience from its workforce.

    This is going to be a long and protracted fight and we may never know the full truth. But I'm willing to bet that both sides are asking for more than is reasonable and that the courts are going to get involved.
    sphericmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 31
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,572member
    nubus said:
    macxpress said:
    They are paid accordingly. They also get benefits as well. This is not professional position...it's retail. And trust me, if someone leaves tomorrow there WILL be someone waiting to come in. Again, this isn't corporate Apple, this is retail where they won't have an issue replacing someone. 
    In Europe the Apple employees do unionize and get 5-6 weeks of paid vacation.
    I don't know about the rest of Europe, but in Germany, 24 days of paid vacation (in addition to bank holidays and Sundays) are a legal requirement, regardless of union involvement. (I mean, unions obviously had a part in making this law at one point.)

    Anybody is free to join and support a trade union, regardless, and setting up a shop council for individual stores or companies is a legal right (though companies do occasionally try to thwart attempts at forming one, they rarely succeed). It is illegal to punish or fire employees for trying. 
    ronn
  • Reply 18 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,747member
    sir_pablo said:

    I was unfortunately fired from Apple retail a few years ago. The reason given for my termination was that I "may have violated policy" by refusing to sign documents that would provide Apple with my medical records. I believe that I had a right to privacy and that I should not have been forced to disclose my medical information to my employer.

    I'm glad to see that Apple workers are now unionized and have more power to protect their rights. I hope that my experience can help to raise awareness about the importance of worker protections.

    That's very abusive. 

    My wife needs expensive medical supplies but the insurance company wanted all kinds of health details before providing them. We provided them with the doctor's official recommendation with the reasoning as to why she needed the equipment but the company wanted more.

    The doctor refused point blank, arguing that all the contract with them required was a qualified specialist prescription. He said that patient health specifics were between him and the patient. No one else. 

    He then wrote a footnote, in capital letters to the original prescription, reminding the insurance company of the contract terms and telling them (in no uncertain terms) to provide the equipment.

    I only wish I had a photo of the face of the guy I handed it too. All he could say was "well, that's not very professional. I'll have to escalate this".

    A few hours later, we got a call saying everything had been approved.

    I think your case and reasoning would have been upheld here in the EU.

    We will never understand why some jobs in the US are paid so poorly that tipping is the only way those workers can make ends meet.

    This kind of language is utterly meaningless:

     "another organization in the middle of our relationship [with retal staff] could fundamentally change the company's "open and collaborative and direct engagement."

    And? So? Why not have open and collaborative engagement with the employee 'representatives'? The unions. 
    sphericsir_pablomuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 31

    Thanks for sharing your story, Avon B7. It sounds like you and your wife had a frustrating experience with your insurance company, but good on your doctor for taking a strong stance on patient privacy. That doctor sounds like a keeper!

    Your situation definitely highlights the importance of having clear boundaries around medical information. It's great to see people like your doctor and the newly formed Apple unions fighting for these rights.

    Apple's reason for firing me always felt flimsy. There should be a clear line between what an employer needs to know and an employee's private health information. Hopefully, things will change for the better with the union around.

    And completely agree with your point about meaningless jargon. "Open and collaborative engagement" sounds good on paper, but it loses all meaning if it doesn't translate to respecting employees' rights and their representatives.

  • Reply 20 of 31
    nubusnubus Posts: 413member
    sir_pablo said:

    There should be a clear line between what an employer needs to know and an employee's private health information. Hopefully, things will change for the better with the union around.

    Privacy shouldn't be limited to customers. The insurance company can ask for medical information - not Apple. In (some countries in) Europe a company would get fined for even asking.
    sir_pablosconosciuto
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