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Apple Store Employee Attempts To Form Union 1008

An anonymous reader writes "Cory Moll, a part-time employee at an Apple store in San Francisco, is attempting unionize Apple store employees. The Apple Retail Workers Union is an attempt to fight for better wages and benefits and to address what he says are unfair practices in the company's glass-and-steel retail showrooms. 'The core issues are definitely involve compensation, pay, benefits,' said Mr. Moll, who has received little public support from employees so far, though he said he has emails expressing support. An Apple representative confirmed Mr. Moll is an employee, but declined to comment on the union effort."
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Apple Store Employee Attempts To Form Union

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  • Re:Citation? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Bresnahan ( 638668 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:24PM (#36420468)
    Here you go! [nypost.com]
  • Re:So get a new job (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:36PM (#36420564) Homepage

    Dude, that's complete bullshit. The majority of Apple Store employees are part time and don't get any benefits (except for cheap benefits like commuter checks.) Part timers start at ~$12 an hour.

    Apple Store has a reputation for firing people at the drop of a hat. There's simply no value for them in retaining employees in the long run simply BECAUSE their employees are easily replaceable and the cost of retention is higher than the cost of training.

  • Re:Unionize this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MagusSlurpy ( 592575 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:39PM (#36420586) Homepage

    Yeah, go ahead and form your "union". You will quickly find out just how replaceable [flickr.com] you are.

    He's just following Apple's lead - if you can't even replace batteries, certainly you can't replace employees.

  • by John Bresnahan ( 638668 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:39PM (#36420594)

    What is it that Americans have against unions?

    They encourage their members to be lazy and corrupt, for one thing. They don't actually represent their members very well, for another. (Perhaps that isn't true in other countries, but it sure is true here!).

    Before becoming a software developer, I worked as a machinist for a small, privately-owned, non-union machine shop. Everyone knew that their labor and their dedication was directly responsible for the success or failure of the company, and we all worked contentiously (not killing ourselves, but not goofing off either).

    At one point, my foreman decided to take a job at a union shop, which was paying more than he could get at the small shop. He went there and worked just as he had worked at his old job. Within a week, the union steward told him that if he continued to work that way, he would have an unfortunate accident.

    Eventually, he decided that he didn't want to intentionally slack off just to keep his union brothers from beating him up (or worse), so he quit that job and returned to the small shop.

  • Re:Unionize this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:56PM (#36420700)

    When that happens, *they* (the rich/powerful/police etc) will have all the guns/food, control of all purchases/transport/employment etc. And you'll be utterly fucked.

    When that happens, you download an .stl file and print whatever object it is you wanted. It's already possible to build your own CNC mill/lathe, FDM machine, furnace, casting moulds, etc. With enough time and a bit of googling, you can make nearly anything at home (a few people have even fabricated and packaged their own microchips). That process will only become cheaper, faster and more automated.

  • Re:Pathetic... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:58PM (#36420716)

    Yes, ask those Chinese workers who are paid more than the workers sitting right beside them in the same factory but who happen to be making Xbox or PS3, or some other thing. The ones who make specifically Apple stuff *are* paid more, at Apple's demand of their supplier.

  • by dingram17 ( 839714 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:07PM (#36421192) Homepage

    It sounds lke the union movement in the US has a lot of maturing to do. Unions in Australia look after the rights of their members and a big part of this is collective bargaining. Large employers have decent sized teams working out employment conditions, and the union (or group of unions) is a reasonable counter to this. Otherwise you have a team of 5-10 professional negotiators 'negotiating' with employees one-on-one.

    When industrial action is called for by the more mature unions, participation is voluntary. I was a member of a union that represented clerical and technical people in the electricity and local government industries. I had the choice of not striking, and when I did I was able to record that as protected industrial action. It gave my supervisor's manager a bit of a panic as he had to record it, and it wasn't usual for a professional engineer to strike (just for the day). The blue collar union that represented the electricians had very high turnouts, and the 'association' representing managers and professional engineers didn't get too many people taking part.

    Promotion is on the basis of merit in the power industry, and the 'last on, first off' rules are pretty much legislated out of existence. Some unions do make rediculous demands when they think they have management over a barrel, and sometimes that results in jobs going overseas. Heinz were put in that position, and rather cave in to Australian union demands they expanded a factory in New Zealand instead.

    A union that cares about the welfare of its members is also happy for an unsafe or dangerous worker to be shown the door. If workers bypass safety devices on a machine then they will get little support from their union, and rightly so.

    Perhaps the US is just a few years behind the rest in the maturity of unions?

  • by ffejie ( 779512 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:19PM (#36421270)
    I think you're reading it wrong. I agree that a lot of the comments on here are pretty scary. Let me try a different approach.

    What the above commenters mean when they say "be happy for what you get, you're unskilled labor," what they mean is: "Your value to the company is not above what you're paid. There are a sea of workers (supply) that can fill our need for people (demand) like you." Further, there are people that think that this worker is trying to change the terms of his employment, which seems unfair to the company. Let's say I hire you to paint my fence at $10/hour. Half way through the job, you come back to me and tell me that you need $15/hour to finish the fence. Obviously I have the right to tell you that I will hire your brother to paint it at $10/hour to finish the job. Introducing the union aspect to this situation gets a lot of people riled up, and some pretty strong emotions come out.

    What I want to know is: what is this really about? Does the guy just want to be paid more, or does he feel like Apple is making too much money and needs to return it to their employees at a higher rate?
  • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @10:32PM (#36421756) Homepage Journal

    I work as a non-union contractor in an otherwise largely-union environment. The general workers have one union and the managers have another union. Most of the people just want to get their work done and go home. I don't see too many differences between my contracting colleagues and the employees. The union is vocal, but has understood that not everyone can keep their jobs in the current environment. They accepted unpaid furloughs in lieu of actual pay rate cuts, and when the numbers clearly showed that wasn't working, they accepted that a lot of people had to be laid off. While I disagree with some of their stances, they're a reasonable union in my books.

    OTOH, my dad worked in aerospace for the better part of two decades. Union actions were fairly common. He took part in them for a while until he saw union reps being driven up in towncars and limousines, wearing expensive clothes, and generally doing a lot better than he did. Eventually, he lost faith in them and started crossing the picket lines. He had an advantage that others did not, though. At more than six feet in height, looking every bit the biker that he was, and with most people knowing that he had plenty of other biker friends at the plant who had his back, no one messed with him or his truck or motorcycle. Other people who crossed the lines weren't so lucky.

    Incidentally, his willingness to cross the lines and keep working got him transferred to working on military aircraft (tankers and cargo planes). He still says, many years after that company ceased to exist, that he was happier seeing through his work ethic and getting something done than being on the picket lines, losing money while union leaders haggled for weeks over a few cents an hour worth of pay or benefits.

  • by ScottyLad ( 44798 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @10:55PM (#36421890)
    Interesting, having clicked through the links on the OP, I got to This interview [ifoapplestore.com] which gives us a better insight...

    "Among the specific issues is ambiguity about how company policies and regulations are administered and enforced, Moll says. Many policies are set at the corporate level, but regional and store managers have discretion to change the rules or enforce them differently..."

    Umm... correct me if I'm wrong, but this is how management works, and why there's a manager in every store adapting to what works best for their particular store.

    Even pay has its variabilities. “They don’t really have a pay scale. I believe that’s largely up to each region and each market,” Moll says. Like most national companies, Apple’s pay rates vary according by region. But unlike most companies, store managers seem to have the ability to hire new employees at rates beyond the range, Moll says.

    Again, this is a little thing called "empowerment" which means their store managers can actually make decisions on how to best run their particular store. I'm guessing the cost of living differs dramatically across all the locations where Apple has stores, and store mangers could use the discretion to retain particularly valuable staff who might have an extra hour's commute, for example?

    "Moll also says there’s a lot of “favoritism among store management teams, or un-favoritism,” when good-performing employees are unfairly evaluated. “They try to find ways to get rid of those employees, where they may be scrutinized more than others,” he says"

    Now this one seems to be the crux of the matter. personally I find it hard to believe that store managers are queuing up to get rid of their best performing employees. I could, however, understand if a store manager paid particular attention to someone who might be doing decent sales, but had an attitude problem that could cause issues.

    From that interview, everything he says makes Apple look like a progressive employer who empowers their management to reward the staff who add value to the business. This sounds like sour grapes from someone who has worked "in multiple stores" and can't get past the shop floor for whatever reason. Could it be the big chip on his shoulder noticing that other people seem to be doing better than him?

  • Re:Part timers? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @11:46PM (#36422136) Homepage Journal

    Lets not forget Apple may report into http://www.theworknumber.com/index.asp [theworknumber.com]

    Its basically a credit report about your work history, and unfortunately the employee can not see what's listed in there because they do not fall under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    So it's entirely possible "Fired for Unionization" could be listed in there and you would not be able to do anything about it, and employers will not show you this information when they pull things up on you. So you could be a Sr Engineer and they list your title as Engineer, and you apply for another job elsewhere claiming your Sr Engineer and they will just call you a liar and move on to the next person.

  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:20AM (#36422266)

    problem here is greed and stupidity, unions in the states do not balance the power any more, they remove almost all power from the employer, the employee trades in their individual voice for stupid shit like scented toilet paper, and the people left in charge are a hand full of organised crime members running a money laundering operation that the tax payers contribute to (most of the time more than the fucking members) without even knowing

  • by xero314 ( 722674 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:28AM (#36422308)

    Aside from jobs like mine...there are hardly any good reasons for unions to exist in the US anymore.

    Don't think I've ever seen such blatant hypocrisy. If even a single job in the has reason for a labor union, then they all do. There is nothing special about certain jobs that make them more in need of collective bargaining.

  • The Reason (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @01:28AM (#36422524)

    Reminds me that Americans are assholes when it comes to labor rights.

    Because over the years unions have (rightfully) earned a reputation for assholism (to outsiders AND members) that is simply met in kind.

    Unions once had a place but now they demand things people outside unions simply cannot get, and that businesses (and government) cannot afford. Most unions refuse to share in sacrifice that businesses and private employees must make.

    I'm sure you can come up with some anecdote that says otherwise but that's simply the exception to the all-to prevelent rule that is the reason why unions are shrinking so precipitously today.

  • Re:Unionize this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @04:12AM (#36423038)

    Agreed, those who see their jobs automated are usually only in those jobs because they're too lazy to learn anything more complex anyone.

    It's really the same with immigration- if any immigrant takes your job you're doing something wrong, because most immigrants move from poor to rich countries. Those in rich countries losing their jobs to immigrants will have had a wealthier upbringing, a better education system, and will know the customs, language and accents of their native country better so have an inherent advantage over immigrants. The only way the immigrant can thus take their job is if the immigrant either accepts lower wages because they believe the job can be done cheaper, or because they're simply more competent.

    The only people who lose out with these sorts of things are the lazy who have thrown away numerous opportunities to better themselves, thus I don't have much sympathy.

    I agree, if your job can be automated, you've only got yourself to blame for not keeping your skillset ahead of the automation curve.

  • Re:Unionize this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @07:44AM (#36423794)

    Concentration of wealth into the hands of the few is still Capitalism. Concentration of power is the antithesis of Communism. Please don't let the USSR taint your view of what Communism is. They were Communist in name only.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein