People are shopping at the Apple store at the Grand Central Terminal, January 29, 2019 in New York City.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Employees of the flagship store Apple Grand Central Terminal in New York are taking steps to unite in a union, unleashing a potential labor battle with the manufacturer of the iPhone.

Organizers, who called themselves Fruit Stand Workers United, are collecting signatures from workers, according to the FSV website. Employees are looking for a representative office of Workers United, a subsidiary of the International Union of Employees, which oversaw the successful efforts of unions in some Starbucks stores in the United States

Organizers will determine the level of union support in their Apple store by collecting authorization cards from employees. This is a key step before applying for a union with the National Labor Office.

The FSWU is demanding higher wages and more agreement with Apple on benefits, workplace safety and other employment issues. The group pointed to how Apple, the world’s most valuable company, has achieved growth in its wealth, while “its retailers are living unsustainably”.

“Grand Central is an unusual store with unique working conditions that make the union necessary to ensure that our team has the best standard of living in times that have been unusual with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and once-in-a-lifetime consumer price inflation.” says the FSV website.

An Apple spokesman told CNBC in a statement that the company offers “very strong compensation and benefits” for full-time and part-time employees. Apple pays its retailers an initial salary of $ 20 per hour and provides benefits such as childcare leave and subsidies. Earlier this year, it expanded hospital and other benefits for U.S. retail workers.

“We’re lucky to have incredible retail members, and we really appreciate everything they bring to Apple,” the spokesman said.

Apple workers are seeking to unite in unions at a time when workplace activity is growing across the country. Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staten Island voted in the company’s first union in the U.S. earlier this month, and a Starbucks barista voted in several places to unite into a union. In late March, Google Fiber contractors in Kansas City, Missouri, supported the union’s efforts by becoming the first workers with negotiation rights within the Alphabet Workers Union.

As of September, Apple said it had 154,000 employees worldwide, although that figure includes the company’s international and corporate employees, as well as retail employees in 270 U.S. Apple stores.

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