Apple guts internal communication tool, crippling union organization

Posted:
in General Discussion

Apple is trying to control communications between retail workers on an internal tool, and complaints are now strictly moderated, allowing only happy, company-positive thoughts.

Apple Park
Apple Park



Apple has reportedly been waging a quiet war with its retail staff in various locations, especially those that seek to unionize like at Apple Towson. The latest blow to employees occurred after an internal communication tool called Loop cut out the "negative" or "critical" posts with new moderation rules.

AppleInsider has received multiple anonymous comments from Apple retail employees about the Loop update. Following the complaints, we reached out to other contacts we have inside the company's retail arm, and all of them confirmed the move by Apple.

One anonymous tipster said to us that they saw Loop as a refreshing insight into how other Apple retail employees felt, and reinforced to them that they weren't alone in their frustrations. On Loop, employees would vent at Apple's "forgotten and uncared for" Today At Apple program, the new push for employees to handle multiple customers at once, and other issues.

Now, according to one account, employees must agree to a new and more restrictive set of ground rules before accessing Loop. Every post is screened by moderators before it is shown on the tool, and it seems anything more critical than neutral is being filtered out.

It is being described to us as a violation of free speech "in an effort to keep us in line." Employees describe the change as similar to being placed back on an island away from other stores.

Apple is a very secretive company, and while some external employee groups on Slack and Discord exist, none were as connected and available as Loop. It seemed to the employees using Loop that the program operators didn't care about the negative posts -- at least until this update.

Without an internal tool to share grievances, these employees will naturally turn outside of Apple to less secure areas. It seems if Apple wants its employees to keep work matters internal, it has eliminated the one tool that kept it that way.

The measures seem unilateral in combating internal negativity towards Apple. Most of the employees we've spoken to see it as a blatant tactical move to suppress union organization. The move by Apple has removed a reliable way for employees to organize, unionize, and compare experiences in a workplace environment.

AppleInsider has reached out to Apple for comment.

Read on AppleInsider

«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,263member
    The First Amendment guarantees citizens the protection of free speech from intrusion by the federal government, it does not apply to private actors, and employers are private actors. Employees working in the private sector often don't understand that the constitutional First Amendment right to free speech applies to government employees but not employees working for businesses. There are all sorts of things dealing with private sector communications but in most cases the company you're working for can decide what can and can't be said at work. It's the same with personal use of computer equipment. Some companies allow it while others don't. To go to the extreme, several people where I worked were running their side businesses while at work using work computers. That's generally a definite no-no!
    dewmePancakegregoriusmAnilu_777red oakAlex1N
  • Reply 2 of 32
    larryalarrya Posts: 608member
    Mark of a great company: censorship and insecurity. 
    napoleon_phoneapartOfergrandact73
  • Reply 3 of 32
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,326member
    Loop was never intended as a tool for airing grievances, but an idea hub to make ideas into a reality. I understand that employees get frustrated if Apple appears to not be listening to their grievances, but loop wasn’t made for that and it’s possible that Apple got tired of hearing just complaints and not ideas. 
    iOS_Guy80gregoriusmcoolfactor9secondkox2red oakNYC362Alex1N
  • Reply 4 of 32
    Wesley HilliardWesley Hilliard Posts: 213member, administrator, moderator, editor
    rob53 said:
    The First Amendment guarantees citizens the protection of free speech from intrusion by the federal government
    You're right of course. But I'm not sure they literally meant "the first amendment." I think they just meant the literal freedom to speak to each other in this context. Of course, they are free to take their conversations elsewhere, and they have.
    ilarynxiOS_Guy80OferAlex1N
  • Reply 5 of 32
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,385member
    larrya said:
    Mark of a great company: censorship and insecurity. 

    Bullshit. 

    If Apple isn't considered a "great" company, then what the fuck is? I'd love to know. It's probably the best company that exists today, all things considered. 

    Also, toxic and negative employees trying to stir up trouble can have a poisonous effect on a company and morale. You have no fucking idea as to the details, not every single action can be dismissed childishly as "censorship". 
    PancakeiOS_Guy809secondkox2red oak
  • Reply 6 of 32
    araquenaraquen Posts: 10member
    Several stray comments.

    1. I absolutely do not understand using corporate resources  to do either personal stuff or stuff that maybe your company would frown at. In all the decades I have been in a corporate environment, I have always kept my personal affairs on personal accounts. There are enough social media platforms. Regardless as to what “The Loop” was intended to do, it was absurd for retail employees to count on this. If I were in their shoes, I would have advocated for Discord, to ensure that we had privacy from corporate eyes.

    2. While I have always been a strong advocate for unions, when the union guiding the Apple retail staff put “tip jar” into the list of demands, I was done. We should be stepping AWAY from tips, not encouraging them. The idea of tipping comes out of Civil War sensibilities and is a way to pay people LESS (and stems from a resentment of having to pay former slaves *anything*). If salaries are not enough, then you argue for higher wages. Tips should be discouraged; and frankly Americans have to stop with that tipping nonsense. If you want to reward a rep, then when you get that stupid survey from Apple, give them all fives (actually you should give them all fives anyway because customer surveys are hot garbage in general, with anything under a 5 being a “fail” condition, even at Apple). So that Apple Store is getting bad advice. Tip Jar. /smh

    3. I’m laying this on Apple Corporate. My understanding is that every store is different. I know of stores that absolutely do *not* want to unionize. Not from fear, but because in general, their store is being run well, and they have no complaints. I can’t say whether Towson is an exception or a norm, but it is not universal. That said, the fact that Apple is union busting instead of investigating why these stores are looking to unionize; and not hold their store managers accountable for creating an environment that fosters unionization is beyond me. It’s very simple: you look at the stores that don’t want to unionize and the stores that do, and you see where the stores that do are failing. You fix that, and it’s a win/win - the staff are getting what they need, and Apple doesn’t need to worry about unions. If an Apple Store's staff is looking to unionize, Apple’s Store management is doing something to provoke unionization. Apple should be fixing the problem, not blaming the staff. It’s like punching an open wound for bleeding instead of sharpening the knife that caused the wound so it doesn’t slip and slice your hand.

    Ultimately, I don’t mind the idea of Apple retail unionizing. The pressure introduced a number of policy changes within Apple as a result, which is how Unions, in general, work. Unions are the tide that lifts all boats.
    iOS_Guy80chasmcoolfactorAnilu_7779secondkox2muthuk_vanalingamred oakbeowulfschmidtAlex1N
  • Reply 7 of 32
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,148member
    Little did we know, when they were making Severance they were saying there's a lot of good ideas in there 
    Ofer9secondkox2
  • Reply 8 of 32
    jcohjcoh Posts: 23member
    The retail employees are a bunch of idiots to use an internal company owned platform to go against the company.  (Insert any company name).  Have Apple employees not heard of WhatsApp, telegram, discord, etc.   I don’t blame Apple at all.    They aren’t saying you can’t be negative  but they sure as hell aren’t going to provide the outlet to do it.    This is not censorship in any form.   This is called management rights.  Yes , I think that companies should do their best to make their employees happy but no you don’t let the tail wag the dog.  If you don’t like your working conditions (as long as they are not dangerous or illegal) you have free will to leave and find a place you “believe” will be better.   But posting on a company owned and monitored platform is just plain stupid. 
    gregoriusmcoolfactorAnilu_7779secondkox2red oakAlex1N
  • Reply 9 of 32
    mayflymayfly Posts: 385member
    larrya said:
    Mark of a great company: censorship and insecurity. 
    Sounds like the perfect description. OF TWITTER!
    9secondkox2Alex1N
  • Reply 10 of 32
    slurpy said:
    larrya said:
    Mark of a great company: censorship and insecurity. 

    Bullshit. 

    If Apple isn't considered a "great" company, then what the fuck is? I'd love to know. It's probably the best company that exists today, all things considered. 

    Also, toxic and negative employees trying to stir up trouble can have a poisonous effect on a company and morale. You have no fucking idea as to the details, not every single action can be dismissed childishly as "censorship". 
    Probably the original HP when it was still being run by Bill and Dave.
    mayfly
  • Reply 11 of 32
    M68000M68000 Posts: 773member
    Would be interesting if Tim Cook and other leadership work at some stores for a couple days.  Let them see what goes on, what it’s like.  Of course they won’t though.  The people who work in retail are on the front line so to speak. 

    I work for a big company, but not in our stores. There was one year the office staff had to work at the stores on black Friday in attempt to have staff understand how retail is.  What an experience,  you get a new respect for people in retail.
    Anilu_7779secondkox2Alex1Nnewlionmx
  • Reply 12 of 32
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,982member
    For a company that has “Think Different” in its DNA, Apple has passed on the opportunity to think differently about labor/management relations. It’s not uncommon in Europe for industries to welcome labor unions as partners, up to and including a seat on the Board. Apple has taken the 19th century robber baron version of calling out the Pinkertons and goons on strikers and updated it to the call out the expensive anti-union law firms at the first sign of workers organizing. Maybe try something different? Sit down and discuss ways a union can partner with management for mutual benefit. Not just assume the sky is falling. Anything other than the knee-jerk adversarial model because “all the other companies are doing it.” Come on, Apple. A little innovation and imagination in this area too. 
    edited July 2023 9secondkox2HedwareAlex1N
  • Reply 13 of 32
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 770member
    slurpy said:
    larrya said:
    Mark of a great company: censorship and insecurity. 

    Bullshit. 

    If Apple isn't considered a "great" company, then what the fuck is? I'd love to know. It's probably the best company that exists today, all things considered. 

    Also, toxic and negative employees trying to stir up trouble can have a poisonous effect on a company and morale. You have no fucking idea as to the details, not every single action can be dismissed childishly as "censorship". 
    So you actually agree with him. You argue they are a great company and they are clearly insecure and censoring employees, so the mark of a great company. You should have quit when you were ahead and just not said anything! Lol. 
    9secondkox2Rogue01
  • Reply 14 of 32
    PemaPema Posts: 48member
    It appears as though Apple, despite its assurances in doing so otherwise, is fiercely attempting to disrupt employees efforts to unionise. First there was the concerted effort to coerce in-store employees. That was soon followed by more stringent efforts to send officials in to the stores and intimidate employees. And now its Putin-like tactics. If the stores can't talk to each other then they can't mobilise. 

    Tactics employed in Tehran, Russia, North Korea and where ever fine regimes are to be found. 


    9secondkox2
  • Reply 15 of 32
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,851member
    Can’t blame apple for keeping company culture clean snd positive. 

    If people want to bad-mouth, they can do it in person with coworkers during lunch. Not on a multi-site communications tool meant for business purposes. 

    If you want to bad-mouth, unionize, etc., it isn’t up to apple to facilitate that. Try it on your own time. 


  • Reply 16 of 32
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,851member
    For a company that has “Think Different” in its DNA, Apple has passed on the opportunity to think differently about labor/management relations. It’s not uncommon in Europe for industries to welcome labor unions as partners, up to and including a seat on the Board. Apple has taken the 19th century robber baron version of calling out the Pinkertons and goons on strikers and updated it to the call out the expensive anti-union law firms at the first sign of workers organizing. Maybe try something different? Sit down and discuss ways a union can partner with management for mutual benefit. Not just assume the sky is falling. Anything other than the knee-jerk adversarial model because “all the other companies are doing it.” Come on, Apple. A little innovation and imagination in this area too. 
    um… unions aren’t “different” 

    they've been around since the mob. 

    Apple IS doing it different by refusing to be bullied where so many others just get pushed around. 

    What Apple also did different is they preemptively addressed employee grievances ahead of unionization. 

    There is no reason for a union here. It’s just mob bully tactics. Good on Apple for not becoming a pushover. 
  • Reply 17 of 32
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,851member
    M68000 said:
    Would be interesting if Tim Cook and other leadership work at some stores for a couple days.  Let them see what goes on, what it’s like.  Of course they won’t though.  The people who work in retail are on the front line so to speak. 

    I work for a big company, but not in our stores. There was one year the office staff had to work at the stores on black Friday in attempt to have staff understand how retail is.  What an experience,  you get a new respect for people in retail.
    Cook is known for surprise visits to stores. 

    And it’s not a new thing either. 

  • Reply 18 of 32
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,982member
    For a company that has “Think Different” in its DNA, Apple has passed on the opportunity to think differently about labor/management relations. It’s not uncommon in Europe for industries to welcome labor unions as partners, up to and including a seat on the Board. Apple has taken the 19th century robber baron version of calling out the Pinkertons and goons on strikers and updated it to the call out the expensive anti-union law firms at the first sign of workers organizing. Maybe try something different? Sit down and discuss ways a union can partner with management for mutual benefit. Not just assume the sky is falling. Anything other than the knee-jerk adversarial model because “all the other companies are doing it.” Come on, Apple. A little innovation and imagination in this area too. 
    um… unions aren’t “different” 

    they've been around since the mob. 

    Apple IS doing it different by refusing to be bullied where so many others just get pushed around. 

    What Apple also did different is they preemptively addressed employee grievances ahead of unionization. 

    There is no reason for a union here. It’s just mob bully tactics. Good on Apple for not becoming a pushover. 
    Sounds like there’s a job for you at Apple’s union busting legal consultant. You’ve got their bullet points down pat.  Gotta love that all-American “the only good Indian is a dead Indian mentality.”
    edited July 2023 HedwaresconosciutoAlex1N
  • Reply 19 of 32
    red oakred oak Posts: 1,097member
    If you dislike working at Apple so much, leave.  Leave and go work somewhere else.   

    Don’t whine and create drama.  Leave 

  • Reply 20 of 32
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,616member
    Pema said:
    It appears as though Apple, despite its assurances in doing so otherwise, is fiercely attempting to disrupt employees efforts to unionise. First there was the concerted effort to coerce in-store employees. That was soon followed by more stringent efforts to send officials in to the stores and intimidate employees. And now its Putin-like tactics. If the stores can't talk to each other then they can't mobilise. 

    Tactics employed in Tehran, Russia, North Korea and where ever fine regimes are to be found. 
    You must hate a lot of American companies then, since most companies have rules against using company equipment for non-work purposes. Do you have a list of all the bad companies, or is Apple the only one on your list? Also, do you have a list of companies that you like? I'd also be interested in seeing that list.

    Notice that I'm both polite and sincere. I just want you to explain yourself in more detail by answering my questions. I'm not being sarcastic at all.
Sign In or Register to comment.