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Apple Sued For Turning Workers Into Slaves 1153

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the waiting-for-a-jon-ives-designed-prison dept.
SwiftyNifty writes "Apple employees are putting together a class action lawsuit for not receiving overtime pay. A Lawsuit filed Monday in California seeks class action status alleging that Apple denied technical staffers required overtime pay and meal compensation in violation of state law. Filed in the US District Court for Southern California, the complaint claims that many Apple employees are routinely subjected to working conditions resembling indentured servitude, or 'modern day slaves,' for lack of better words."
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Apple Sued For Turning Workers Into Slaves

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  • by evilkasper (1292798) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:23AM (#24508905)
    cultists don't get payed
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:23AM (#24508909)
    If you think YOU'RE a slave, try working in a iPod factory in China [msn.com] for a while. And be glad Apple at least hasn't outsourced you [businessweek.com]....yet.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:42AM (#24509167)
      If you think YOU'RE a slave, try working in a iPod factory in China for a while.

      Or, worse yet, try playing football for Manchester United...

  • News... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maztuhblastah (745586) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:24AM (#24508925) Journal

    You know for all the flak we give the traditional media, at least they don't have headlines like this.

    Not properly dispensing overtime pay is not the same thing as slavery, and the disconnect between the inflammatory headline and TFA is appalling.

    On a lighter note, the CAPTCHA for me is unionize.

    • Re:News... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ccguy (1116865) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:58AM (#24509353) Homepage

      Not properly dispensing overtime pay is not the same thing as slavery,

      Yours is one of many posts saying the same thing (and getting +5 insightful).

      Why are you guys focusing on bashing the headline instead on the actual problem, which is that highly skilled people are working over time for nothing?

      This IS a serious problem because,
      - It is so common in the industry that there aren't lots of alternatives.
      - The more they work the more others (even in other countries) are forced to work.
      - Quitting is not a serious option unless you are rich and work for sport.

      • Re:News... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by maztuhblastah (745586) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @11:20AM (#24510561) Journal

        Why are you guys focusing on bashing the headline instead on the actual problem, which is that highly skilled people are working over time for nothing?

        Two reasons:

        1. If you believe that this is a serious issue that needs people's understanding, attention, and focus, then I'm sure you don't want to risk turning people off to your message because you published a headline rife with hyperbole. Using a reasonable headline will make sure you're taken seriously, and not discarded as some "loon".
        2. The workers choose to work there. I'm not arguing that what Apple did is legal (I know far to little about labor laws to comment one way or another on TFA), but I can't help but think that it's not "slavery" or "abuse" if the workers have the option of quitting and moving on to greener pastures.
      • Re:News... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Alpha830RulZ (939527) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @11:40AM (#24510807)

        instead on the actual problem, which is that highly skilled people are working over time for nothing

        Let's start by convincing me that this is a problem. These highly skilled people are also highly paid. Overtime pay is important, I will assert, because low paid people deserve a fair wage for their time.

        A software developer who makes a $90k salary doesn't quite fit the description. $90k is about $45/hour, if you work 40 hour weeks, and about $34 an hour if you average 50 hour weeks. $34 an hour is hardly starvation money. Whether this is a fair wage for their time is a matter of negotiation between the employee and the employer, in my opinion.

        The lack of overtime compensation is not forcing people into poverty, and it's not even abuse. It's apparently a condition of the employment at Apple, that some people don't like. Fair enough - find another job that doesn't demand that level of work.

        The right way to state this is that highly paid people are being tasked with work that takes more than 40 hours a week. They are complaining about that, and trying to use the government to renegotiate their salary. I suggest that they go move to France, where the government will help them do so. In the US, I'll be surprised if they succeed, because the laws in most states are pretty clear that professional work is generally excluded from requirements for overtime pay. Professional work is usually defined as that which requires a lengthy period of study to attain, such as accounting, medicine, and engineering.

        Personally, I am a little disgusted with the whining attitude of the gen x'rs. I have worked hours over my career that make these claims look paltry by comparison. The result, over time, was that I advanced in my career, and made some significant money when our company went public. My parents did the same. My grandfather worked his ass off on a farm, and was dirt poor. The chinese are working their asses off for $50 a month.

        If you all want civil service work conditions, go get a job working for the post office, and see how much fun that is. Develoment is hard, and to make a business of it sometimes means stretching your self. Toughen up and grow a sack. Or understand that you are relegating yourself to the group of workers that your managers will look at as being solely interested in what's in it for you, and therefore placing yourself on the list of those to jettison whenever cuts need to be made.

  • Slaves, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qoncept (599709) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:24AM (#24508927) Homepage
    Maybe these people need to talk with someone who has actually been enslaved before they claim they were treated the same way. They should be compensated appropriately for their time, but the shock value of using the term "slave" is pretty ridiculous.
  • Jobs (Score:5, Funny)

    by Daniel Weis (1209058) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:26AM (#24508939)
    It's their Jobs.
  • He quit. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:27AM (#24508951) Journal

    Nobody hunted him down and made him return to the job; he's not a slave, QED.

    -jcr

  • Slavery? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:27AM (#24508957)

    'Slavery' seems like far too extreme of a word the 'indentured servitude' is slightly less inaccurate. And concerning 'servitude' the 13th amendment only prohibits "involuntary servitude". These people can quit if they would like.

  • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:29AM (#24508977)

    Indentured Servitude [wikipedia.org]: An indentured servant is a form of debt bondage worker, in which the indentured individual is intentionally, unethically and illegally deprived of their human rights, their civil rights and their personal freedom and liberty.

    Unfortunately TFA is Slashdotted right now so I can't read all of the details, but if the summary is anything to go by, I really, really doubt Apple was forcing these guys to work due to debt and/or was holding them captive. What they did do was make their workers work OT without paying them correctly, which is an inexcusably naughty practice, but it's hardly indentured servitude, slavery, or any other form of bondage.

    Furthermore this shit is fairly common, Apple isn't the first company or the last company to stiff their employees on OT. That doesn't make it right and certainly knocks Apple down a few pegs in my own eyes, but get some perspective here people.

  • by Illbay (700081) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:32AM (#24509033) Journal

    She and her colleagues have "X" number of contract days for which they must report to work.

    However of late, the practice has begun of additional "nonmandatory" meetings, training sessions, and general workdays. You know, "for the children." This has grown to the point where she is probably present "at work" during about 12 to 15 days of her summer vacation. None of this time is compensated in any way; in fact, with gasoline costs as they are, you may readily say SHE is paying for this privilege.

    Oh, it's "not mandatory," but it is "expected" by the administrators, who like to boast to their peers about the amount of "donated time" they're getting out of their teachers. "Failure to cooperate" can lead to subtle retaliation.

    My point is that this isn't "slavery" but it is d*mned inconsiderate. If you want to climb the "ladder of success," don't do it on the backs of your "underlings."

    • by kidgenius (704962) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:49AM (#24509251)
      Um, speaking as someone whose mother is a teacher, sister is a teacher, and sister-in-law is a teacher, you are paid for your summer break. You usually will receive a large check at the beginning of the summer break to cover you for the summer. So, you are being paid, just like if you were in school. So what if you have to attend some trainings, etc. You have already been compensated at the beginning of the summer. She is not paying for the privilege, she was paid previously. That money is basically given with the assumption that through the summer, you will be creating lesson plans and such for the next year. Going to a training fits into that scope. If you worry about paying for gas and everything, look into taking that as a deduction/credit on your taxes at the current rate of ~$0.50/mile. I know that as an engineer, when I have had to travel to facilities other than the one I have a desk at, I get reimbursed by the government. Now, don't think I am disparaging teachers. I'm not. They usually are at the schools for an hour an a half before class, and usually 2 after, in addition to taking work home like grading papers, tests, etc. Add to that, that they have to deal with a bunch of kids that usually don't want to listen to them, you get a situation where teachers are not compensated enough in my eyes.
      • by Farmer Crack-Ass (1140103) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:59AM (#24510275)
        Speaking as someone who actually works at a school district, you either misunderstand what that money represents, or you know some pretty damned lucky teachers. The district I work at (and I've heard teachers from other places describe it this way as well) gives you two options: 1) Full pay for nine months. It's up to you to either budget responsibly or find a summer job to hold you over for those summer months. 2) Average out your salary over twelve months - you get the same amount of money, but some of it is held during the school months so that you can continue to receive a steady paycheck over the summer. Either way, the teachers are only contracted for the days they work in the school year - summer isn't considered paid work or paid vacation. Now, if things are different in your district, that's fine - just remember that different places and people will have different perspectives.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:32AM (#24509035) Homepage

    Good god it appears to be the phrase of the year "We are just modern slaves". Top of the shop of abuse of the term is Sepp "I'm a nutter" Blatter who in reference to someone who is paid about $300,000 A WEEK said that it was just like modern slavery [google.co.uk].

    These people aren't slaves because.... THEY COULD QUIT. It might be tough, it might be hard, but either quit and get another job or work out a constructive way of fixing it.

    Don't compare it to the physical ownership of another human being and the sort of destruction of human rights that entails.

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:33AM (#24509037) Homepage

    Apple employees should just switch which pins are connected via the jumper. It's clearly labeled on the top of the drive.

  • by segedunum (883035) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:34AM (#24509059)
    Apple made it perfectly clear in their contracts that they would be compensated by merely getting excited about the thought of working near the place where such secret and beautiful products are created. Even just working for Apple should be compensation enough. Hell, you should be able to get your date off merely by telling her you work for Apple.

    I take it these people didn't get the memo. Do these people not know that?
  • by Rie Beam (632299) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:35AM (#24509075) Journal

    It Just Works.(TM)

  • pathetic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:39AM (#24509141) Homepage

    Equating earning $100k and working in an air conditioned office longer than you expected with SLAVERY disparages the memories of those who were whipped to near death while working in fields, and paid nothing.

    I think the court should order those workers to work on plantations without pay for a while, then reconsider their use of the word "slavery."

  • Delicious (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rie Beam (632299) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:42AM (#24509161) Journal

    "Coke Cola introduced a new, delicious Lime-twisted beverage today, creating a Holocaust of flavor formerly unknown to this world until today. The lines of people at convenience stores remind one of cattle awaiting an unknown fate, only these cattle were people, and the fate a tasty, carbonated beverage."

  • by japhering (564929) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:46AM (#24509215)

    Just wait until they win their suit..Apple will pay the court required payments.. then convert all those employee to an hourly status...at a base pay cut design to make it so that all the overtime is required to make it back to what they were getting in salary in the first place.

    For the IBM employeesu in California that sued for the same thing.. the class won $56M and everyone in the class was reclassified as hourly at a 15% pay cut, because based on IBM's calculations that would keep the wage payments at the same level after the switch from salary to hourly. And oh by the way.. IBM applied the reclassification across all American employees in the same job category, but not the class action payments.

  • by UID30 (176734) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @09:53AM (#24509299)

    ... where, unless you are upper management, you are getting the shaft. Being a developer, I particularly like how (at my company anyway) our sales staff pulls down Director level salary and obscene commissions on the gross (NOT net) product they push out the door ... even when it means a loss for the company.

    I remember back years ago where there were a few movements to form programmers unions ... doomed to failure from the inception. Programmers don't need huge entrenched installations to do our work like, say, UAW workers do ... and since every cocky high school kid who has churned out "Hello World" in Visual Basic thinks they can do real development ... and the typical management position that developers are an easily replaced commodity.

    I dunno. I'm just old and jaded. Always do the best work you are capable of doing, and if you feel you deserve better compensation when your company is either unwilling (don't see you as a valuable asset) or unable (poor decisions have left them so fubar that they can't) then it is time to move on. Possibly more important ... if you are unhappy doing what you are doing, forget the compensation and move ASAP.

    Suing your own company for a perceived lack of compensation is the best way to build resentment and to nail the coffin shut on your future with that, or any other, company.

  • what a twit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:03AM (#24509425)

    Apple employees aren't slaves. Or even indentured servants. The comparison is offensive given there is real slavery going on elsewhere in the world.

    Are they asked to work unreasonable hours and compensated unfairly? Maybe. But they can always quit and seek employment elsewhere. If all of Apple's talent just up and leaves, they'll either fail as a company or rectify their compensation strategy. Capitalism at work.

  • Slaves (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:04AM (#24509437)
    I know that people love to throw around buzz words that illicit an immediate emotional response but I think people need to truly understand the power those words possess and recognize that, by using the word, they are not empowering their case. They are demonstrating a shocking lack of understanding of our world's history which immediately undermines their case as nothing more than the histrionics of a drama queen. Does this lawsuit have ground to stand on? Possibly. If Apple is treating their staff unfairly then a class action lawsuit is warranted. But, as soon as anyone associated with the case attached "slave" to their description of the situation, my immediate reaction because "attention whore seeking easy payday." If you're going to use an emotionally charged word, make certain it's relevant. In this case, it couldn't be less relevant if they tried. They may as well have simply likened Apple to Nazis while they were at it...
  • It's the law (Score:5, Informative)

    by jhfry (829244) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @10:38AM (#24509957)

    Read the laws reguarding overtime. According the the Fair Labor Standards Act, an employee must be classified as exempt by meeting certain legal requirements, or they must be paid 1.5x their hourly wage. The law specifically states that no contract or agreement between employee and employer can override the law.

    Read all about it, you very well might be a victim too!
    http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/flsa/ [dol.gov]

  • by BigGar' (411008) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @11:31AM (#24510681) Homepage

    A lot of people are getting hung up on the use of the word slavery in this context. Now, I agree that what were seeing here isn't remotely close to slavery, indentured servitude, etc.

    But use of on "over the top" word doesn't change the possibility that Apple's employment practices may be violation of State or Federal law. A lot of employers over use the salaried position category to avoid paying overtime. Most employee's do not understand their rights enough to know the difference to they put up with it assuming that is just part of the job, when, in fact, they are being abused.

  • by doomicon (5310) on Thursday August 07, 2008 @01:30PM (#24512375) Homepage Journal

    I wholeheartedly agree that Apple is required to follow state work laws, and should be punished if they are not doing so.

    HOWEVER.. some IT Dork that probably makes 85k+ a year calling himself a "Modern Day Slave", because he doesn't get overtime? I'm sure there a some illegals working in textile plants that would disagree.

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