The result is a blow to Apple’s campaign to blunt labor movements by claiming it pays more than many retailers and offers a range of benefits including healthcare and stock subsidies. Last month, he raised the starting wage for retail employees to $22 an hour, from $20, and posted a video of Deirdre O’Brien, who runs Apple Retail, warning employees that joining a union could harm business operations.
Towson employees said in a video ahead of the union vote that Apple’s anti-union campaign there was “mean” and included management telling workers that unions once barred black employees from joining their ranks. In the weeks leading up to the vote, Ms O’Brien visited the store and thanked everyone for their hard work.
Soon after, employees said their managers began encouraging staff to voice their concerns in meetings and help find solutions to their grievances. They also began luring employees into one-on-one meetings where managers highlighted the cost of union dues, said Eric Brown, a Towson employee active in the union effort.
The vote evens the score between Apple and the organizers. Earlier this month, workers at an Atlanta store scrapped a planned election when support for the union plummeted after Apple moved to raise wages and highlight the benefits it offered . Atlanta union organizers have filed a formal complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing Apple of forcing workers to listen to anti-union messages at mandatory meetings. The council has not yet determined whether the accusation is true.