Apple Sunnyvale office described as 'black site' with tenuous work conditions

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 11
A new report gives a rare look into the Sunnyvale, Calif. Apple Maps satellite office on Hammerwood, where workers decry working conditions and describe it as a "black site."

Image Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Image Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg


The site is so clandestine that managers tell staffers to walk several blocks away before calling for a ride home, according to Bloomberg sources. Its reception area is unpopulated, and the building lacks the sort of creature comforts Apple provides at Apple Park, to the point that there are lineups to use the men's bathrooms.

People assigned to the facility -- sometimes numbering 250 or more -- have contracts lasting 12 to 15 months and typically leave after that duration, the sources said. They're hired by Apex Systems, which staffs the Hammerwood building along with other Apple mapping offices.

"It was made pretty plain to us that we were at-will employees and they would fire us at any time," one contrator complained. "There was a culture of fear among the contractors which I got infected by and probably spread."

That situation is consistent with what an AppleInsider source experienced at another Apple Maps office in Austin, Tex.

After Bloomberg inquired about the Hammerwood location, Apple reportedly conducted a surprise audit and found conditions acceptable. "Like we do with other suppliers, we will work with Apex to review their management systems, including recruiting and termination protocols, to ensure the terms and conditions of employment are transparent and clearly communicated to workers in advance," a spokesperson said.

Apex's chief services officer and general counsel, Buddy Omohundro, insisted that his company "provides multiple avenues for employees to raise concerns, both directly and anonymously, and to have those concerns addressed."

Apple is said to be dependent on a global network of staffing firms, with other Apple Maps teams found in London, India, the Czech Republic, and other parts of Silicon Valley.

Some of the people hired by Apex said they joined with the hope of securing a full-time job at Apple, something Apex hyped, only to find the odds were slim. Apple is even said to be reducing the number of conversions to full-time as its profits take a hit, and discouraging people from listing the company by name on their resumes -- instead of "Apple via Apex Systems," LinkedIn profiles must allegedly say "A Major Tech Company Via Apex Systems."

Other problems under Apex are said to include high health insurance premiums, and sudden changes in employment terms, such as a reduction in annual paid sick time from 48 hours to 24 hours -- something workers were only warned about two days before the change took effect. In protest over a dozen staffers called in sick and left.

Contracts are said to include several weeks of training followed by a test, which if failed results in immediate termination -- a serious threat for people having to pay the high living expenses of California, and who may have made radical life changes on the assumption they had a stable job. Hammerwood wages are typically only $25 per hour, which would be generous in other states but in California are low enough that coworkers are sharing apartments and houses.

The firm is said to aggressively recruit people via LinkedIn, tracking down those with mapping-related skills and then messaging them "repeatedly." It doesn't initially mention the Apple connection, but when the name eventually drops, it may be a deciding factor for some hires.

The Hammerwood office is also home to a group of people who do work directly for Apple, but their exact role is unclear. It could be connected to the company's self-driving car project.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    jmc54jmc54 Posts: 199member
    Isn't it, Apex Systems, Sunnyvale office?
    racerhomie3
  • Reply 2 of 29
    LOL, almost all jobs are at will. This story is a mess. $25 an hour is temp work, why would you make radical lifestyle changes for it?

    The main thing i got from it is the Apple campus has lots of bathrooms.
    SpamSandwichpatchythepiraterandominternetpersonAppleExposedcornchip1983
  • Reply 3 of 29
    Roger_FingasRoger_Fingas Posts: 126member, editor
    LOL, almost all jobs are at will. This story is a mess. $25 an hour is temp work, why would you make radical lifestyle changes for it?

    The main thing i got from it is the Apple campus has lots of bathrooms.
    Some of the people were looking to get Apple on their resume.
  • Reply 4 of 29
    I don’t care for the clear anti-Apple bias in this story.
    randominternetpersonlolliver
  • Reply 5 of 29
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,983member
    I don’t care for the clear anti-Apple bias in this story.
    Tough. If Apple is running an unhealthy workplace, then people should know about it.

    i don’t care for the clear anti-workforce bias in this country.

    Everything I’ve ever heard about and witnessed about Apple as an employer has made it clear to me that I will never work for them. It has nothing to do with my skill set and everything to do with my self-respect. I’ve been abused by employers before; there’s nothing more important than staying out from underfoot of a sociopathic organization.
    Roger_Fingasbeowulfschmidtmicrobe1983
  • Reply 6 of 29
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,485member
    If you are going to whore yourself out and be a contractor ( they are not called body shops for no reason), you have to expect to take in the rear some times. I personally do not agree with how companies have used contract workers to avoid not having to hire people, but if you are unable to get a permanent job for various reasons, you can not expect to have the same benefits as those who have the skills and talents to land those jobs. There is a large number of people who are more than willing to take contract work verse trying to get a permanent job, companies know this so they know they do not have to own the cow to get the milk.

    BTW no company will allow you to list them are work experience if you work for a third party contracting service. Yes they works on Apple products, buy they do not work for Apple. I worked for companies who made product for all the major Telecom companies, but I can not say I worked for the major service providers just because I worked on product they used.
    mdriftmeyerradarthekatracerhomie3cornchip
  • Reply 7 of 29
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 633unconfirmed, member
    dysamoria said:
    I don’t care for the clear anti-Apple bias in this story.
    Tough. If Apple is running an unhealthy workplace, then people should know about it.

    i don’t care for the clear anti-workforce bias in this country.

    Everything I’ve ever heard about and witnessed about Apple as an employer has made it clear to me that I will never work for them. It has nothing to do with my skill set and everything to do with my self-respect. I’ve been abused by employers before; there’s nothing more important than staying out from underfoot of a sociopathic organization.
    You didn't read the story did you?

    LOL, almost all jobs are at will. This story is a mess. $25 an hour is temp work, why would you make radical lifestyle changes for it?

    The main thing i got from it is the Apple campus has lots of bathrooms.
    Some of the people were looking to get Apple on their resume.

    Why couldn't they?

    LOL, almost all jobs are at will. This story is a mess. $25 an hour is temp work, why would you make radical lifestyle changes for it?

    The main thing i got from it is the Apple campus has lots of bathrooms.

    Everyone has a higher moral standard for Apple. If this were Facebook or Google no one would give a shit.
    lolliverStrangeDaysracerhomie3
  • Reply 8 of 29
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,485member
    dysamoria said:
    I don’t care for the clear anti-Apple bias in this story.
    Tough. If Apple is running an unhealthy workplace, then people should know about it.

    i don’t care for the clear anti-workforce bias in this country.

    Everything I’ve ever heard about and witnessed about Apple as an employer has made it clear to me that I will never work for them. It has nothing to do with my skill set and everything to do with my self-respect. I’ve been abused by employers before; there’s nothing more important than staying out from underfoot of a sociopathic organization.

    Everyone is responsible to determine what is healthy and unhealthy for themselves and some people care more than others. The rule should always be look out for number one which is yourself and if you are not doing this and boss or company takes advantage of you, it is only you who you have to blame. I worked for a lots a big company and have been with them through the good and bad, and seen good environments turn toxic. Guess what when I decide I no longer wanted the company benefiting from my talents and skills I got the resume out and found someone else who was willing to pay me what I wanted and provide a better environment. I also been on the flip side when the company decide my value was more than they want to afford and show me the door, again I got that resume out and find a match.


    Remember when you live in America, no one is forcing you to do anything and you have a whole country of choice. 
  • Reply 9 of 29
    [...] Everyone has a higher moral standard for Apple. If this were Facebook or Google no one would give a shit.
    Well, yeah. Facebook and Google make no claims of occupying the moral high ground. Apple does. It's part of Apple's marketing strategy. So yeah, of course people expect more from Apple, because Apple itself tells us we can.
    AppleExposedronnmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 29
    There’s nothing wrong with freelancing. People who like this kind of work arrangement prefer it for its flexibility over being deskbound like a salaried worker.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    Happy workers typically do good work (the odd lazy exception notwithstanding). Miserable workers typically do poor work, and the best people don't contribute anything at all because they quit. If the people working on Apple Maps are miserable, it's probably reasonable to expect the quality of Maps to suffer.

    I understand there may be benefits on the bottom line to Apple relegating certain tasks to situations that are less than luxurious, but that should be balanced against the adverse effects negative product impressions have on that same bottom line. Despite improvements over the years, Maps still has the lingering stigma of being a second-rate product to overcome. Maybe it and Siri are not places where Apple should be cutting corners on making workers happy.
    ronn
  • Reply 12 of 29
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,160member
    If you're not happy with AI's take on the story, try reading it from Bloomberg. Hint: you won't be any happier.

    The story is mainly about how Apex treats the employees, and that Apple signed off on it. To be fair, it's hard to say whether or not Apple was aware of Apex's treatment. But that doesn't prevent the casual reader from exercising their bias and making assumptions not based on fact.

    Some things are perfectly normal for at-will contract employees, such as not being able to use the gym at Apple, and not being allowed to put Apple on a resume. Hint: don't list something on your resume that a previous employer will deny. 'No, he/she was not an Apple employee' is all they have to say. Then you've effectively lied on a resume. That can bite really hard.

    The bathroom thing, if true, is a health issue. A call to OSHA might, might yield some action.

    But all the restrictions and admonishments could be delivered with appropriate respect without depriving anyone of any dignity whatsoever. I've never been an at-will or contract employee, but I've worked in environments that did not hold employees in much if any regard. Fortunately, I found a career where I was valued and respected, doing a job I loved. Now retired, I look around and see how many people will not have one but several careers. And being seen as expendable generally means poor treatment by poorer management.


    maestro64 said:
    If you are going to whore yourself out and be a contractor...
    What a dumbass statement. You make a shitload of assumptions in order to further diatribe.
    ronncornchipmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 29
    The consensus across the web appears to be that AI and others have fallen for an Onion article.  LOL that anyone would believe the silly nonsense that Apple has people working on its Mapping app is a top secret matter.  Or that the location needs to be kept secret, lest folks figure out that it takes lots of people to make the constant updates to a system of worldwide maps.  Yes, that secret must be guarded, especially  the location where those entry level contractors are working on making those changes. Stay tuned for the update that Apple Security has been following these contractors home to see if they are meeting with folks to leak sensitive mapping details they are working on, such as updating the app to reflect that the Burger King moved from Terminal A to Terminal B at O'Hare Airport. 

    Equally ludicrous that someone would buy things like that having hundreds of employees park a few blocks away would somehow conceal the fact that they are walking to a location. Or leaving by the back door--Onion material for sure!   It would have been more believable if they had said Apple built a secret underground tunnel and employees can only emerge from it during hours of darkness.  

    And one of the biggest giveaways that web sites were being pranked was the description of the "sweat shop" slave labor conditions evil Apple was having its contractors work in. "understocked vending machines" and ""recruiters repeated messaging candidates via LinkedIn," and expecting employees to be able to pass a competency test after training?"   Oh, the inhumanity of it all!    LOL.  LOL. LOL.  
    edited February 11 SpamSandwichrandominternetpersonlollivercornchip
  • Reply 14 of 29
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,012moderator
    dysamoria said:
    I don’t care for the clear anti-Apple bias in this story.
    Tough. If Apple is running an unhealthy workplace, then people should know about it.

    i don’t care for the clear anti-workforce bias in this country.

    Everything I’ve ever heard about and witnessed about Apple as an employer has made it clear to me that I will never work for them. It has nothing to do with my skill set and everything to do with my self-respect. I’ve been abused by employers before; there’s nothing more important than staying out from underfoot of a sociopathic organization.
    It might also have something to do with your misperception that this story is about Apple. It’s not, despite the headline.  It’s about Apex systems, a completely different company, in an office in Sunnyvale, also not Apple’s office.  It’s Apex Syatems’ office.  But yeah, Apex does have a contract for some work with Apple.  
    randominternetpersonlolliver
  • Reply 15 of 29
    dysamoria said:
    I don’t care for the clear anti-Apple bias in this story.
    Tough. If Apple is running an unhealthy workplace, then people should know about it.

    i don’t care for the clear anti-workforce bias in this country.

    Everything I’ve ever heard about and witnessed about Apple as an employer has made it clear to me that I will never work for them. It has nothing to do with my skill set and everything to do with my self-respect. I’ve been abused by employers before; there’s nothing more important than staying out from underfoot of a sociopathic organization.
    Yikes.  First, this workplace isn't run by Apple.  A less biased article would make that clear.

    Second, Apple is "sociopathic"?  And every single thing you've heard has given you that impression?  So when you read a story about the Apple annual beer bash, with big name performers, you think "sociopaths!"  Frankly, I'm having a hard time thinking of any story that would give you that impression.  Perhaps product secrecy?
    SpamSandwichlolliverStrangeDays
  • Reply 16 of 29
    macgui said:

    But all the restrictions and admonishments could be delivered with appropriate respect without depriving anyone of any dignity whatsoever. I've never been an at-will or contract employee, but I've worked in environments that did not hold employees in much if any regard. Fortunately, I found a career where I was valued and respected, doing a job I loved. Now retired, I look around and see how many people will not have one but several careers. And being seen as expendable generally means poor treatment by poorer management.

    I have only worked at a few companies, but every one made a point of being clear that everyone is was "at will" employee.  That just means that, unlike union shops and some government jobs, we don't have contracts.  The company can--in theory--terminate individuals or entire work units as it deems fit.  Having said that, state and federal rules put significant restrictions on what companies can actually do, and more importantly companies that "take advantage" of this "at will" option will pay a price in terms of retaining and recruiting talent.  In short, most workers in the US are "at will" employees and, in general, it's no big deal.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 17 of 29
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 633unconfirmed, member
    [...] Everyone has a higher moral standard for Apple. If this were Facebook or Google no one would give a shit.
    Well, yeah. Facebook and Google make no claims of occupying the moral high ground. Apple does. It's part of Apple's marketing strategy. So yeah, of course people expect more from Apple, because Apple itself tells us we can.
    "Don't be evil"

    "We care about privacy"

    Yeah let's ignore Google and Facebook and bash Apple all day.
    randominternetpersonlolliverStrangeDayscornchip
  • Reply 18 of 29
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 633unconfirmed, member
    macgui said:
    If you're not happy with AI's take on the story, try reading it from Bloomberg. Hint: you won't be any happier.

    The story is mainly about how Apex treats the employees, and that Apple signed off on it. To be fair, it's hard to say whether or not Apple was aware of Apex's treatment. But that doesn't prevent the casual reader from exercising their bias and making assumptions not based on fact.

    Some things are perfectly normal for at-will contract employees, such as not being able to use the gym at Apple, and not being allowed to put Apple on a resume. Hint: don't list something on your resume that a previous employer will deny. 'No, he/she was not an Apple employee' is all they have to say. Then you've effectively lied on a resume. That can bite really hard.

    The bathroom thing, if true, is a health issue. A call to OSHA might, might yield some action.

    But all the restrictions and admonishments could be delivered with appropriate respect without depriving anyone of any dignity whatsoever. I've never been an at-will or contract employee, but I've worked in environments that did not hold employees in much if any regard. Fortunately, I found a career where I was valued and respected, doing a job I loved. Now retired, I look around and see how many people will not have one but several careers. And being seen as expendable generally means poor treatment by poorer management.

    I wasn't aware they were contracted. So they are NOT Apple employees.

    My goodness these articles.....

    dysamoria said:
    I don’t care for the clear anti-Apple bias in this story.
    Tough. If Apple is running an unhealthy workplace, then people should know about it.

    i don’t care for the clear anti-workforce bias in this country.

    Everything I’ve ever heard about and witnessed about Apple as an employer has made it clear to me that I will never work for them. It has nothing to do with my skill set and everything to do with my self-respect. I’ve been abused by employers before; there’s nothing more important than staying out from underfoot of a sociopathic organization.
    It might also have something to do with your misperception that this story is about Apple. It’s not, despite the headline.  It’s about Apex systems, a completely different company, in an office in Sunnyvale, also not Apple’s office.  It’s Apex Syatems’ office.  But yeah, Apex does have a contract for some work with Apple.  

    Just realized this. I feel stupid now. I took the bait.


    P.S. this reminds me of the Foxconn articles that have idiots yelling "Apple hires slaves!!!"

    Good thing to know that Apple treats their employees well.
    edited February 11 lolliver
  • Reply 19 of 29
    I don’t care for the clear anti-Apple bias in this story.
    And given it’s Bloomberg... Looks like a hit job.

    The story doesn’t ‘smell’ right.
    edited February 11 SpamSandwichlolliverStrangeDays
  • Reply 20 of 29
    LOL, almost all jobs are at will. This story is a mess. $25 an hour is temp work, why would you make radical lifestyle changes for it?

    The main thing i got from it is the Apple campus has lots of bathrooms.
    Some of the people were looking to get Apple on their resume.

    Why couldn't they? 
    It’s against policy. 3rd party vendors can’t even put Apple on their clients lists or their work into portfolios, etc. Anyone wanting to “get Apple on their résumé” should know that already. 
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