Retail Employees at the tech giant are trying to keep up with escalating living costs.
Elli Daniels’ hourly compensation at the Apple Store in Atlanta’s Cumberland Mall location was $16.50, which was over the federal minimum wage in Georgia but below the average for sales in her metro region. Despite repeated rises over the past three years, her compensation has failed to keep pace with national inflation or Apple’s increasing profits.
She’s one of the 100 qualified Apple Store employees who petitioned the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday to hold a union election, with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) backing them up. It will be the first election of its kind for an Apple retail store in the United States.
“One of the most important things we’re fighting for is fair pay and a livable income,” Daniels told Engadget. “With Atlanta being such a large city, it’s just getting more and more costly to live here.” “Everyone needs to be able to live without worrying about whether they will be able to purchase food or pay their expenses. Everyone should be able to afford to live in the place where they work.”
However, Daniels, a product zone specialist, made it plain that her and her employees’ demand for more salary isn’t motivated by resentment. She stated, “We want to do this because we love this company, not because we want to turn our back on them.” She appeared to be a true believer in Apple’s products.
According to Daniels, Apple has been entirely mute on the issues, similar to the Google Fiber retail workers who just unionized in Kansas City, Missouri. “We haven’t received any communication from Apple corporate.” As a result, the workers and the CWA decided to petition for voluntary recognition and a union election at the same time. Apple’s silence suggests it wants to put the matter to a vote, though we’ve reached out to them for confirmation.
Apple has made enormous profits throughout the epidemic years, despite the fact that the economy as a whole has suffered. It has consistently generated record-breaking quarters, but according to Daniels, the winnings aren’t spread equitably. Raising wages is a practical way to help Apple Store employees who have “had to leave the company because they just needed more money to be able to pay their bills, because they were growing a family,” but it’s also a philosophical way to “try to close the gap” between corporate and retail employees. “It’s critical that both sides of the coin are treated equally at the company where we all work,” she said.
Workers in Cumberland aren’t alone, either. Workers at the Apple Store in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, backed by the Fruit Stand Workers United, recently demanded a $30 minimum wage. They’re also riding a wave of renewed union sentiment, as evidenced by the first successful unionization vote at an Amazon facility in the United States, as well as a spate of successful union drives at Starbucks locations across the country. Apple does not appear to have used the same captive audience meetings or union-busting practices that other firms have become known for.
“We love Apple no matter what,” Daniels stated emphatically. “I believe it’s all about making sure that we can all put our heads together and really make Cumberland the greatest place that it can be for all of us, both now and in the future.”