Apple Store workers are starting to unionize, citing stagnating wages

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2022
Some Apple Store employees across the U.S. are quietly pushing to unionize, citing wages that have not kept up with inflation.

Apple The Grove location in LA
Apple The Grove location in LA


Groups at two brick-and-mortar Apple locations are being backed by national unions and are preparing to file paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board in the "near future," sources familiar with the efforts told The Washington Post.

At least another half dozen Apple Store locations are at less advanced stages of unionization.

The efforts are being spurred by wages stagnating under the weight of inflation. They're also being encouraged by successful unionization efforts at other retail businesses, such as Starbucks.

Apple employs more than 65,000 people in its retail workforce, including employees that sell, repair, and troubleshoot products and services. The Cupertino tech giant's retail footprint was responsible for 36% of the company's $366 billion in revenue in 2021.

Although Apple has seen impressive revenue growth over the past few years, retail employees who spoke with The Washington Post say that they haven't shared in those gains.

Retail employees at Apple make between $17 to more than $30 an hour and get between $1,000 and $2,000 worth of stock. However, retail staffers say those wages have not kept up with inflation over the years.

While Apple's hourly rates are in-line with similar retail jobs in the markets where Apple Stores are located, retail workers say that those other retail businesses don't bring in as much revenue as Apple and aren't valued at nearly $4 trillion.

Apple Store workers told The Washington Post that their passion and knowledge for Apple products also helps the company drive sales. Because of that, they say they should share more fully in the company's success.

Managers have already started to pull workers aside and convince them that unionization would hurt workers, however. To avoid detection from managers, employees are reportedly meeting in secret and organizing via encrypted messaging apps. Some are even resorting to using Android devices in an effort to avoid potential snooping.

The iPhone maker is planning on increasing benefits for its employees starting in April, including more sick and vacation time. Apple is also preparing to provide raises to some of its retail workers in an effort to retain talent in a tough labor market.

However, workers at several Apple Stores who spoke with The Washington Post say those raises backfired. Some employees said they received raises of less than a dollar per hour and, because of inflation, they effectively make less than when they started.

The efforts to unionize aren't the only employee organizing endeavors within Apple. Back in 2021, a group of staffers began informally organizing under the #AppleToo banner to expose and discuss workplace conditions and allegations of racism, sexism, and inequality within the company.

Toward the end of 2021, the #AppleToo movement renamed itself "Apple Together" and organized a walk out on Dec. 24 to demand better working conditions. The size of the actual strike was unclear.

According to The Washington Post, the retail efforts to unionize are being secretly supported by the contingent of corporate employees. Some corporate staffers have donated to The Coworker Solidarity Fund, which is a nonprofit to help employees from Apple and Netflix who have spoken up about their respective companies.

Read on AppleInsider
ronn
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    Do retail employees receive health benefits?
  • Reply 2 of 31
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,433member
    These are the dumbest people ever. They should go work retail anywhere else tomorrow. “ Retail employees at Apple make between $17 to more than $30 an hour and get between $1,000 and $2,000 worth of stock.” No retailers are paying this. They work directly for one of the biggest companies in the world doing one of the more basic jobs in the company. Apple will pay for their education if they want to move to higher tier positions that actually create the products that drive the revenue all the way up to upper and executive management if they are willing to dedicate the time and effort. 

    Imagine if these organizers were focused on helping their coworkers fully realize the Opportunities right in front of their faces. Instead they focus on trying to get more for doing the same thing even though they make far more than many in the same field. 

    I would move to a performance based commission system that uses sales and customer satisfaction scores for each individual and their store to directly determine their pay. 

    Do poorly you get minimum wage, average performance gets about where they are now, an excellent score gets a bonus based on the profitability of their store paid out quarterly. 
    NYC362sdw2001
  • Reply 3 of 31
    genovelle said:
    ***Duh'lorted***

    I would move to a performance based commission system that uses sales and customer satisfaction scores for each individual and their store to directly determine their pay. 

    Do poorly you get minimum wage, average performance gets about where they are now, an excellent score gets a bonus based on the profitability of their store paid out quarterly. 
    And that kind of negotiating is exactly what a Union can help with.
    jroyFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 4 of 31
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    Do retail employees receive health benefits?
    Absolutely. A surprisingly good benefits package for the retail sphere.
    JFC_PAbyronl
  • Reply 5 of 31
    I'm all for people on lower end unionising to gain leverage in discussions. Having a decent wage keeps a worker more motivated to do their job too. I guess it's store managers that get the 30$ or more and basic seller gets the minimum.

    I like my job and what I do, but if my compensation lags and leaves me unsatisfied that it covers my efforts I'd start looking for better options. Taking care of workers just makes them more loyal.

    That being said, unionising is not necessarily a trouble-free option. 

    PS: the mathematician in me cringes every time the short million system is used. It's billiard $ not trillion $. :)
    edited February 2022 byronl
  • Reply 6 of 31
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,555member
    genovelle said:
    I would move to a performance based commission system that uses sales and customer satisfaction scores for each individual and their store to directly determine their pay. 

    Do poorly you get minimum wage, average performance gets about where they are now, an excellent score gets a bonus based on the profitability of their store paid out quarterly. 
    I've worked at places like that. I know people who have worked places like that. I'll let you in on a secret: it's a lie. Promotions and bonuses and raises don't go to the people on the ground who are doing the hard work. They are never recognized for the effort they put in. They go to the managers who show the highest profit and keep costs the lowest, especially wages and benefits. The lie that big corporations and the market will take care of the workers is just that; a lie. Never has worked that way, never will. That's why people organize
    edited February 2022 dewmeviclauyycjroyhammeroftruthronnnadrielbyronlFileMakerFellergrandact73
  • Reply 7 of 31
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,555member
    Seems like Apple just the other day announced pay increases for its retail employees

    appleinsider.com/articles/22/02/12/apple-prepares-to-dole-out-pay-raises-to-many-us-retail-employees

    Preemptive strike I guess.
    edited February 2022
  • Reply 8 of 31
    Makes sense. Tim Cook keeps talking about the importance of team work in all those leaked emails about returning to the office. Sounds like the retail folks have been listening and took the team work message to heart. 
    jroy
  • Reply 9 of 31
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    nadriel said:
    I'm all for people on lower end unionising to gain leverage in discussions. Having a decent wage keeps a worker more motivated to do their job too. I guess it's store managers that get the 30$ or more and basic seller gets the minimum.

    I like my job and what I do, but if my compensation lags and leaves me unsatisfied that it covers my efforts I'd start looking for better options. Taking care of workers just makes them more loyal.

    That being said, unionising is not necessarily a trouble-free option. 

    PS: the mathematician in me cringes every time the short million system is used. It's billiard $ not trillion $. :)
    I think you mean billion.  A billiard is 10^15, which is a quadrillion in the short scale.
    edited February 2022 ronnFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 10 of 31
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    Do retail employees receive health benefits?
    Yes they do, if they choose to, as do part time employees as well.   The cost is of course, split between Apple and the employee.  There are also options for vision, dental, and hearing coverage.  Employees also have a lot of access to mental health care.

  • Reply 11 of 31
    nadriel said:
    I'm all for people on lower end unionising to gain leverage in discussions. Having a decent wage keeps a worker more motivated to do their job too. I guess it's store managers that get the 30$ or more and basic seller gets the minimum.

    I like my job and what I do, but if my compensation lags and leaves me unsatisfied that it covers my efforts I'd start looking for better options. Taking care of workers just makes them more loyal.

    That being said, unionising is not necessarily a trouble-free option. 

    PS: the mathematician in me cringes every time the short million system is used. It's billiard $ not trillion $. :)
    In a way, that already exists.

    First of all, as many here know there are different level of hourly employees.  At the bottom you have Specialist, Expert, and Pro.  There is also Technical Specialist and Technical Expert for those at the Genius Bar.  There are also Business Experts and Business Pro.   Not sure at what point hourly pay stops and straight annual salary begins- it might be senior store managers and directors are on an annual salary, everyone under them is hourly.  

    Wages are review on an annual basis with two factors accounting for a raise.  The first is has the range of pay for your title gone up.  If so, you get compensated for that to make sure you are still making more than someone with less seniority.  Then there is a merit raise based on your work performance- sales, AppleCare+ sign ups, business intros, customer survey results, etc. 

    On top of that, an employee may be granted an amount of money in Restricted Stock Units that vest over the following three years. (An RSU grant in 2020 will vest in thirds in 2023, 2024, and 2025).

    Beyond all that are other benefits:  Health insurance, a 401(k) plan that the company will match up to 6% (after five years-  the match is lower the first five years), sick days and paid vacation days, an Employee Stock Purchase Plan, and of course, product discounts. 

    Finally, the opportunity for career advancement through transfers to other stores and through career experiences (temporary assignments to higher or other places to learn other aspects of the company's work) is really amazing. 

    I am all for unions.  They have, overall, made life better for hundreds of millions of Americans over the past century and a quarter, but I really wonder how much better a union could be for Apple retail employees.  It could help with investigations of things like alleged discrimination, etc., but I really doubt it can help with compensation and benefits.  
  • Reply 12 of 31
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,632member
    genovelle said:
    These are the dumbest people ever. They should go work retail anywhere else tomorrow. “ Retail employees at Apple make between $17 to more than $30 an hour and get between $1,000 and $2,000 worth of stock.” No retailers are paying this. They work directly for one of the biggest companies in the world doing one of the more basic jobs in the company. Apple will pay for their education if they want to move to higher tier positions that actually create the products that drive the revenue all the way up to upper and executive management if they are willing to dedicate the time and effort. 

    Imagine if these organizers were focused on helping their coworkers fully realize the Opportunities right in front of their faces. Instead they focus on trying to get more for doing the same thing even though they make far more than many in the same field. 

    I would move to a performance based commission system that uses sales and customer satisfaction scores for each individual and their store to directly determine their pay. 

    Do poorly you get minimum wage, average performance gets about where they are now, an excellent score gets a bonus based on the profitability of their store paid out quarterly. 
    As an Apple customer I’m a bit wary that Apple pushing sales performance and commissions would change the customer experience. I’ve never felt pressured in the least by any Apple Store associates when contemplating a purchase. They have always come across as being there to help, understand my needs, and answer questions, never to steer me in a direction that is personally advantageous for them. 

    Apple already collects feedback for most if not all customer engagements. 

    In my experience, whatever Apple is currently doing to provide a customer-first experience in its stores seems to be working spectacularly. Even though we hear the grumbling from the Apple retail channels in these tech forums, I’ve never sensed any leakage of the supposed discontent when dealing with Apple employees (sales and support) in their stores or in telephone interactions. 

    I have no issues at all with Apple Store employees negotiating with their employer for whatever they believe they deserve. But if they sink the ship to extinguish a fire in one compartment, everyone will lose, especially Apple’s legion of loyal customers. I would also caution them that we are loyal to Apple, and if they expect us to pick their (Apple Store employees) personal grievances over Apple as a whole, it will not end well for them. 
    viclauyycFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 13 of 31
    DAalseth said:
    genovelle said:
    I would move to a performance based commission system that uses sales and customer satisfaction scores for each individual and their store to directly determine their pay. 

    Do poorly you get minimum wage, average performance gets about where they are now, an excellent score gets a bonus based on the profitability of their store paid out quarterly. 
    I've worked at places like that. I know people who have worked places like that. I'll let you in on a secret: it's a lie. Promotions and bonuses and raises don't go to the people on the ground who are doing the hard work. They are never recognized for the effort they put in. They go to the managers who show the highest profit and keep costs the lowest, especially wages and benefits. The lie that big corporations and the market will take care of the workers is just that; a lie. Never has worked that way, never will. That's why people organize
    That or the managers play favorites. I've absolutely been there. I had a spotless attendance record, made a lot of sales, and still never got recognized for it meanwhile, the ones that are buddy buddy with the manager seem to get all the respect even though they slacked off, were frequently late to work, and had poor sales numbers.
    jroyronn
  • Reply 14 of 31
    I bought my brand new 2019 16” MBP when it was out. I order online and pick up in Apple Store. When I told the old gentleman who helped me that I pay full price for the $4000 MBP, he paused and seems uneasy. Then he asked me to wait till he finished with other customers. Then he asked me if I want to save some money and offer me education discount. He cancel my online order and repurchased it and give me the discount. The whole thing took at least 45 minutes. He is not on Commission and that was the first time I see him. not to mention I was not in school or education.

    If Apple change AS to commission base or performance base, I don’t think the service will be anywhere this good. 
    jroyFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 15 of 31
    Does the Genius people in Apple Store considered Apple retail store employee? They have a lot of knowledge. They probably should be paid higher. Therefore, Apple retail store employees are tiered? People can have opportunity to ascend the ladder?
  • Reply 16 of 31
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 857member
    Six or so stores out of 270 in the states. So Apple is doing things mostly right. It’s always good to reevaluate how well the company members are being treated so this can be a learning opportunity. Or simply some few disgruntled trouble makers doing their 15 minutes. It happens. 
  • Reply 17 of 31
    You got the headline wrong. I think you meant to say, "Apple workers look for an easy pay raise, ignoring their own stagnating skill sets and lack of personal initiative in an economy that rewards knowledge, hard work, and personal initiative."
  • Reply 18 of 31

    I am shocked this is news.

    Unionising is a freedom mandated by law. 

    Cooperations long ago figured out that unions cost them money and flexibility; But as it is illegal for them to disband a union outright they fight their creation with naughty naughty tactics - some more than others.


    Never been part of one and I do see the many downsides, but as they say the law is the law. 

    Besides they have to get i think 30-40% of the workforce to sign up. So two stores is like a drop in the ocean, unless each store is its own legal entity - which I doubt.

  • Reply 19 of 31
    Bosa said:
    I can find 100 people in a week who will happily work for Apple retail  and won’t unionize. 
    Indeed but that means u will fire the 100 that wanted a union. Tough luck on that, firing on the grounds of unionising is illegal and punishable. However you could be naughty and fire them on other grounds or get them to quit - if you have no ethical qualms

    The bigger picture is that hyperinflation is probably on its way boys and girls
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 20 of 31
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,491member
    Apple and Amazon aren’t the Dollar store or Walmart there will be a fight to unionize, join the Germans, scab/gig life isn’t a good life. At ground level if you don’t fight no one else will.
    edited February 2022
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