Some Apple Store employees across the United States are quietly pushing to unionize, citing wages that have not kept up with inflation.
Groups at two physical Apple locations are supported by national unions and are preparing to file documents with the National Labor Relations Board in the “near future”, sources familiar with the efforts said. The Washington Post.
At least half a dozen Apple Store locations are in earlier stages of unionization.
Efforts are stimulated by wages which stagnate under the weight of inflation. They are also encouraged by successful organizing efforts at other retail outlets, such as Starbucks.
Apple employs more than 65,000 people in its retail workforce, including employees who sell, repair, and troubleshoot products and services. The Cupertino tech giant’s business footprint was responsible for 36% of the company’s $366 billion in revenue in 2021.
Although Apple has experienced impressive revenue growth over the past few years, retail employees who spoke with The Washington Post say they didn’t share those gains.
Apple retail employees earn between $17 and over $30 an hour and get between $1,000 and $2,000 worth of stock. However, retail workers say those wages have not kept up with inflation over the years.
While Apple’s hourly rates match similar retail jobs in markets where Apple Stores are located, retail workers say those other retail businesses don’t generate as much revenue as Apple. and are not valued at nearly $4 trillion.
Apple Store employees said The Washington Post that their passion and knowledge of Apple products also help the company drive sales. Because of this, they say they should share in the company’s success more fully.
However, managers have already begun to push workers aside and convince them that unionization will hurt workers. To avoid detection by managers, employees would meet in secret and organize through encrypted messaging apps. Some even resort to using Android devices in an effort to avoid potential spying.
The iPhone maker plans to increase employee benefits starting in April, including more sick and vacation time. Apple is also preparing to give raises to some of its retail employees to retain talent in a tough job market.
However, employees at several Apple stores who spoke with The Washington Post say that these increases have backfired. Some employees have reported receiving raises of less than a dollar an hour, and due to inflation, they actually earn less than they did when they started.
Union organizing efforts aren’t the only employee organizing efforts within Apple. In 2021, a group of employees began informally organizing under the #AppleToo banner to expose and discuss working conditions and allegations of racism, sexism and inequality within the company.
Towards the end of 2021, the #AppleToo movement rebranded itself as “Apple Together” and held a march on December 24 to demand better working conditions. The size of the actual strike was unclear.
According to The Washington Post, the retail unionization efforts are secretly supported by the company’s contingent of employees. Some company staff have donated to the Coworker Solidarity Fund, which is a non-profit organization to help Apple and Netflix employees who have spoken out about their respective companies.
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