Apple retail employees at its Penn Square location in Oklahoma City have made it the second Apple retail location where employees have voted to unionize. The store is the second in the United States to vote in the union. The first was a store in Towson, Maryland earlier this year.
The Penn Square employees reportedly voted 56 to 32 in favor of joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union during an election at the store this week. The union now waits to be certified by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board.
An Apple spokesperson responded to the unionization vote with the following statement with Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman:
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. Since 2018, we’ve increased our starting rates in the US by 45% and we’ve made many significant enhancements to our industry-leading benefits, including new educational and family support programs.
While unionizing gives employees at the store the ability to negotiate over improved working conditions and other benefits through collective bargaining, they will see a delay in receiving some benefits offered to employees of non-unionized stores.
Last week, Apple announced plans to offer retail employees additional funds for education and new healthcare features in some states. However, unionized employees at the Towson, Maryland Apple Store will not receive these benefits. Towson employees were informed that their union will need to negotiate benefits with Apple. Apple’s head of retail, Deirdre O’Brien, warned the store’s employees about such a possibility back in May.
Apple has steadily been improving benefits for retail workers in an effort to prevent unionization, announcing in February that employees will receive paid sick days, more vacation days, and more parental leave. In June, the company agreed to more flexibility in employee schedules.
Apple’s retail chief Deirdre O’Brien has been pushing back against unionization efforts at some of the company’s brick-and-mortar locations in a new video to staff members. O’Brien told staff members that the efforts could slow workplace progress and potentially harm the relationship between Apple and its employees.
“We have a relationship that is based on an open and collaborative and direct engagement, which I feel could fundamentally change if a store is represented by a union under a collective bargaining agreement,” said O’Brien, in a video. “And I worry about what it would mean to put another organization in the middle of our relationship.”