Employees of the Apple Store in Towson, an American town in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland, had already achieved a first in June 2022, by voting to form a union. They could continue to mark labor history in the United States after voting on Saturday May 11 in favor of a possible strike, which would be unprecedented in an American brand of the famous technology group.

“The vote shows employees’ frustrations over unresolved issues in the workplace. The date of a possible work stoppage will be determined by IAM CORE,” the local branch of the union, the IAM union said in a statement. Before them, no group of employees had created a union in an American store of the iPhone manufacturer. These employees have since joined the ranks of IAM (which mainly represents technicians), and their branch is negotiating a new professional contract with Apple.

Saturday’s vote “follows more than a year of negotiations with Apple management which did not result in satisfactory solutions on essential issues for [the] members”, explained the union in a press release on Wednesday . Discussions notably stumbled over “work-life balance, unpredictable schedules that disrupt personal lives, and salaries that do not reflect the cost of living in the region,” according to IAM.

Another vote coming at a New Jersey store

The Towson store has around 100 employees. Some 98 percent of those who voted favored a work stoppage, according to a union representative. “Today’s vote (…) sends a clear message to Apple,” said members of IAM CORE, quoted in the press release on Saturday. The strike could take place before the next negotiations meeting, scheduled for May 21.

Apple carefully cultivates a polite image, physically embodied by its luxurious stores. A picket line in front of one of them would harm its brand image and would be a first in the United States.

The American union wave born in a few Amazon warehouses during the Covid-19 pandemic has spread to other groups, notably Starbucks and other chains, but also Apple. Employees of another store of the Californian company, in New Jersey, are also voting this weekend to decide whether to join a union.

The agency responsible for the right to work, the NLRB (for “national labor relations board”), has received numerous complaints against Apple, regularly accused of trying to discourage its staff from unionizing.

In France, in September, nearly a quarter of employees in Apple stores went on strike on the day of the global launch of the iPhone 15, to demand a salary increase at least equal to inflation.