Workers at Apple’s flagship Grand Central Terminal store in Manhattan have begun formally collecting signatures to form a union, according to a recently updated website launched by organizers, setting the stage for a showdown between the manufacturer iPhones and the employees who sell them.
Apple’s Central Station department store tries to unionize
If Fruit Stand Workers United organizers can muster enough votes to form a union, the Grand Central site would become the first Apple store to do so. It would add the Cupertino, Calif., company to a growing list of behemoths, including Amazon, Starbucks and Activision-Blizzard, facing a wave of organizing efforts in a labor landscape that has fundamentally changed in the wake of the pandemic. world. At least three other Apple outlets are in the process of forming a union, according to employees who spoke on condition of anonymity to keep their jobs.
“Grand Central is an extraordinary store with unique working conditions that make a union necessary to ensure our team has the best possible standard of living in what has proven to be an extraordinary time with the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and once in a generation consumer price inflation,” the website states.
Apple declined to say whether it would support or oppose the union effort, but said in a statement that “we are blessed with incredible members of the retail team and deeply appreciate all that they bring to Apple. We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full-time and part-time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, family leave paid, annual equity grants and many other benefits.
Some US Apple Store workers are pushing to unionize, amid growing worker backlash
Apple has more than 500 retail locations worldwide and more than 270 in the United States, according to his website. It employs over 65,000 retail workers. Sales through Apple’s retail stores and website accounted for 36% of the company’s $366 billion in total revenue in the fiscal year that ended in October, according to company filings. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Apple has seen stunning revenue growth in recent years, bringing in $378 billion in the past calendar year, up from $240 billion in 2017. Its strong cash position has allowed the company to spend tens of billion a year in stock buybacks and dividends for investors, driving up its stock price.
Apple Retail employees interviewed by The Post said that despite the company’s success, their wages have not kept up with inflation, and some complain of harsh working conditions, including the inability to hold officials responsible for alleged unfair or abusive practices. Apple retail employees can earn anywhere from $17 to more than $30 an hour, depending on their market and position, and receive between $1,000 and about $2,000 in stock, they said. Employees say Apple’s hourly rates generally match those of other retail jobs in the regions where they are employed. But Apple, valued at $2.7 trillion, is no ordinary company. An Apple spokeswoman said the minimum hourly rate at Apple stores is $20.
Apple’s retail employees say they’ve been instrumental in the company’s success, helping to drive sales through their knowledge and passion for the products. Even when they’ve stayed home during the pandemic, retail workers have continued to contribute, nimbly taking on new tasks such as tech support for customers at home, and they say they haven’t been compensated for the extra time and stress of adapting quickly. Despite increases at the company’s outlets earlier this year and new benefits including more vacation and family leave, some Apple employees still feel cheated.
Apple said it is “deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and investigate thoroughly whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of those involved, we do not discuss employee-specific matters.
Amazon workers vote to join union in New York in historic move
The news comes on the heels of an upset victory for Amazon warehouse workers on Staten Island – directly across from the location of Apple’s Grand Central Terminal – where a majority voted to unionize despite strenuous efforts by the e-commerce giant to convince them otherwise. And Starbucks employees at 16 locations, including one in midtown Manhattan, successfully unionized. After more than 100 stores announced efforts to follow. Employees at REI’s SoHo site in Manhattan voted 88-14 in March to unionize, the first of REI’s 170 stores to do so. QA agents for Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software are forming a union, part of a growing trend in video games.
On December 24, Apple employees staged a walkout and launched a website, apple togetherto help retail employees.
Apple store employees have mostly worked in secret, hoping to informally gauge interest before making a public effort to collect official signatures. Workers believe that the company will find a reason to fire them if management learns of their efforts to unionize.
The Fruit Stand Workers United website says the employees communicated over an encrypted messaging service, albeit anonymously to protect them from possible retaliation.
Union organizers at Apple outlets have allies in the company’s offices, employees say. Apple tech workers have also been pushing for better working conditions.
Starbucks workers vote to unionize 6 more stores, bringing total to 16
Last year, software engineers and other “corporate” workers formed #Appletoo, a movement to improve working conditions in the company, especially for traditionally underrepresented groups, including disabled workers.
Apple fired Janneke Parrish, who helped organize #AppleToo. Parrish said she is being investigated for leaking information at a company meeting, a charge she denies.
And Cher Scarlett, a software engineer who encouraged employees to share their salaries in an investigation to expose possible pay disparities hurting underrepresented groups, alleged she was kicked out in retaliation for her efforts.