Apple Store Employees Speak Out Against Demoralizing, Draining Work Conditions

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A series of interviews with retail employees conducted by a labor movement website paints a scathing picture of what it’s like to work at the Apple Store: underpaid, demoralized, physically drained and with no way to secure full-time benefits without turning your personal life over to Apple.

Here’s the breakdown of the complaints.

• Veteran Apple Store workers asking about pay disparities (namely, that new hires were being paid more than many employees who had been at the Apple Store for a year or more) are told that “money shouldn’t be an issue when you’re employed at Apple.” Rather, the chance to work at Apple “should be looked at as an experience” worth more than competitive pay alone.

• Apple Store keeps its retail employee healthcare costs low by defining all employees as part time unless they can literally guarantee that they will be available to work at anytime the store is open. This is true even if you work 40 hours a week.

• Apple understaffs its retail stores to keep costs down, adding undue amounts of stress for employees and customers alike. A Maryland employee interviewed said that Apple’s understaffing could make the workload “overwhelming” and “a lot more difficult to be effective.” A New York Apple Store employee confirms, comparing the disparity between the lengths Apple goes to to satisfy customers and the length it will go to appease employees as “demoralizing.”

• Apple management won’t take suggestions on how to make their retail stores work more efficiently because of their “very top-down corporate culture.”

• Recent changes in Apple Store scheduling policies have led to a “very big overhaul” of workers’ schedules and responsibilities, which means that the average Apple Store employee has less time to do repairs, less consistent schedules and a lot more employee burnout as they spend more time on the floor and work more early morning shifts immediately following night shifts. The new system is described as “draining emotionally and physically.”

The piece by In These Times is worth a read, even if it’s a pro-union site with a very clearly stated agenda. So take this with a grain of salt. If this is really the way that Apple is treating its retail employees, though, no wonder they want to unionize.