President Joe Biden on Monday sent words of encouragement to Apple Store employees who have just formed the company’s first retail union.
“I’m proud of them,” the president said, according to the White House pool report. “Workers have the right to determine under what conditions they will work or not. And I think the thing that everyone misunderstands about unions is that they tend to be, especially in the trades, the best workers in the world.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers easily won an election at the company’s Towson Center store outside Baltimore last week, where workers voted 65 to 33 in favor of the joining the union, according to a vote tally held Saturday by the National Labor Relations Board. Apple has one week to file any challenges to the election.
The election results at Apple follow similar groundbreaking victories for the labor movement at Starbucks, Amazon and REI in recent months. The high-profile string of victories has union leaders and supporters hoping for a turnaround, with union membership now at a low of only 6.1% in the private sector.
Biden has used the bully pulpit to promote unionism, and in a speech last week at the AFL-CIO Federation of Labor convention, Biden reaffirmed his vow to be “the most pro-union president” in the world. all the time. “I promised you that I would be, and I pledge to you that as long as I have this job, I will stay that way,” he said.
Biden has indeed shown a level of public union support that few, if any, of his predecessors have. In a speech last year, he lambasted companies that try to interfere in union elections, just as Amazon held meetings with a captive audience to dissuade workers from unionizing. And after workers won a union election at a New York warehouse earlier this year, Biden said, “Amazon, here we come.”
“Workers have the right to determine under what conditions they will work or not.”
In the case of Apple, organizing drives are already brewing at other outlets in New York and Atlanta, and the decisive vote in Maryland could encourage workers in other places to ask the labor council to hold votes.
Towson store workers sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook last month saying they had “come together as a union out of a deep love for our role as workers in the within the company and for the sake of the company itself”. Apple opposed the organizing effort and store managers had encouraged workers to vote against the union.