President Joe Biden said he was “proud” of Apple store employees in Towson, Maryland, who voted this weekend to form the first-ever union in one of the tech giant’s US stores.
“I’m proud of them,” the president told reporters from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Monday. “Employees have the right to determine under what conditions they will work or not work.”
Biden, who also recently met with union organizers from Amazon (AMZN) and Starbucks (SBUX), added that “everyone is better off, including the final product” because of unions.
Apple’s (AAPL) store employees at the Towson Town Center, a shopping center near Baltimore, voted by a margin of nearly two to one to form a union, according to Saturday’s count from the National Labor Relations Board.
Organizers call their union the Apple Coalition of Organized Retail Employees, or AppleCORE for short, and have received support from the larger union International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The Engineers Union thanks Biden for his support on Monday. “Workers’ power is spreading across the country,” the union wrote in a tweet.
An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNN Business’s request for comment Monday. “We are fortunate to have incredible members of the retail team and we value everything they bring to Apple,” the company said in a previous statement. “We are excited to offer very strong benefits and benefits for full-time and part-time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits.”
An employee organizer at the Apple Store in Maryland told CNN Business shortly after the vote count on Saturday that a big part of unionizing at Apple was about sitting at the table. “Compensation is important, given the cost of living in general and inflation, but the most important thing is to have a say,” said Christie Pridgen, a technical expert at the store and one of the organizers. “That was the most important thing for me.”
The union efforts at Apple come amid a broader movement of workplace activism that has sprung up during the pandemic. The health crisis has once again put the safety of workers in the United States in the spotlight, as have concerns about wages and equality within the tech sector, in particular. Meanwhile, a tight labor market has given employees new leverage to negotiate with their employers.
Last month, the president shared a video of his meeting with Amazon union leader Chris Smalls shortly after the union’s historic victory at one of the e-commerce company’s facilities on Staten Island.
“Chris Smalls is making good problems and helping to inspire a new movement of workers’ organization across the country,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Let’s continue.”