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Apple Store Employees Are Reportedly Unionizing

Managers have begun pulling employees aside to feed them anti-union propaganda, employees say.

Employees stand in an Apple retail store in Grand Central Terminal, January 3, 2019, in New York City.

Employees at at least eight Apple Stores in the U.S. are in various stages of unionizing efforts, according to new reporting by The Washington Post.

According to anonymous sources, including at least one organizer, two stores are prepared to file a petition for unionization with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and have contacted major unions, while six other stores are in more nascent stages of organizing, The Washington Post found.

The organizing efforts are inspired by Starbucks Workers United’s extraordinary campaign in which nearly 100 stores across the country have filed for unionization over just the past few months. Apple Store workers say that their wages aren’t rising with the rate of inflation and that the company hasn’t been giving them an equal share of the record-breaking profits that the employees have helped create with sales and repairs.

According to financial filings, over a third of the company’s $366 billion in total revenue in 2021 was made from its website or within retail stores. The company has over 270 retail locations in the U.S. and employs more than 65,000 retail workers.

Within the last few months of 2021, the company marked a 20 percent increase in profits, despite losing billions to chip and other supply shortages in the fall. The tech behemoth grows its worth nearly every year, and last month, the company became the first in the world to be worth over $3 trillion.

But retail employees say that they aren’t seeing this growth in their paychecks. They can make between $17 and $30 an hour, depending on their location and position, plus stocks. The low end of that range, about $35,000 a year, is just over a living wage for a full time worker with no children in a place with a cheaper cost of living like central Ohio; that wage is no longer viable to live off of if a worker has a child, according to MIT’s living wage calculator.

“I have a lot of co-workers and friends who I genuinely love and they do not make enough to get by,” an organizer told The Washington Post. “They’re struggling and they’re hurting and we work for a company that has the resources to make sure that they’re taken care of.”

Workers also say that wages haven’t kept up with inflation in recent years – meaning that employees could effectively be getting pay cuts as inflation rises.

Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook received nearly $100 million in compensation last year, while the company spent $85.8 billion on buybacks.

Employees say that while they may make more than other retail employees – many of whom aren’t being paid livable wages – they bring in a massive amount of value for the hugely profitable company, which is clearly benefiting. Workers told The Washington Post that their “knowledge and passion for the products help drive sales and that they should share more fully in the company’s success,” the publication wrote.

Organizers are anticipating union busting from the company, however, as managers have already begun pulling employees aside to tell them anti-union propaganda, claiming that Apple will be forced to take away benefits if employees unionize. Managers are also eavesdropping on workers, organizers said; unionizing workers have taken to using Android phones and other less-detectable methods of communication to organize.

Previous reporting has found that Apple employees often find themselves siloed when they face problems at work. The Verge reported in December that employees say they’re overworked and don’t have anywhere to turn when they’re facing problems like a missed paycheck or a poor manager. “Corporate makes decisions based on what they think will work in the stores without talking to people who work in the stores,” one employee told The Verge. Retail employees are treated as an “afterthought,” the publication reported.

One employee, Mark Calivas, faced so many problems at his job at the Apple Southpoint store in Durham, North Carolina, that he died by suicide after working in the store for about eight years, The Verge reported. His best friend told the publication that “it was Apple” that did it, after the store got a manager that bullied and intimidated Calivas and HR was unresponsive to the issue.

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