Apple doesn't want ex-felons building its new spaceship campus

Apple doesn’t want ex-felons building its new spaceship campus


Photo: Buster Keaton in The Goat
Recent ex-felons are barred from working on Apple's spaceship campus. Photo: Buster Keaton in The Goat

Apple’s been known for its extreme levels of secrecy since Steve Jobs made his return back in the late 1990s and, while that has changed somewhat under Tim Cook’s stewardship, there are still areas Apple is incredibly careful about revealing. An example? How about its new spaceship-style campus, for one.

According to a recent news report, Apple is insisting on criminal background checks for even the construction workers simply involved with pouring concrete for the new Apple HQ. It’s an unusual move from an unorthodox company, and it’s rubbing a few people up the wrong way.

Apple's spaceship campus as it will eventually appear.
Apple’s spaceship campus as it will eventually appear.

“Apple is always nervous about preserving its proprietary information, and yet I don’t know how this would affect that concern,” Michael Theriault, president of Iron Workers Local Union 377 told the San Francisco-based SFGate news outlet. “Our folks put the wire in the reinforcing bar [of the building]. It makes no sense to me.”

Apple’s not just making idle chatter, either. In January, it reportedly ordered several construction workers with past felony convictions to leave the site. According to documents, Apple notes that anyone who has been convicted of a felony within the last 7 years, or who is facing charges, “does not meet owner standards” to work on the project.

Protesting letters have been sent to both Tim Cook and state Attorney General Kamala Harris, but no response has been received. “Apple’s prohibition against employment of former felons or those with a pending felony charge does not just fail to address inequality, then, but amplifies it,” the letters read. “It is, moreover, an evil precedent.”

Given his promotion of equality and Apple as a “force for good” in the world, I’d be surprised if Tim Cook wasn’t rankled by the accusation that he’s “amplifying” inequality and setting an “evil precedent.” At the same time, it’s hard to argue that Apple is being completely unreasonable here.

It may be paranoid thinking, but given how secretive the work carried out at Apple’s headquarters is, I can understand why the company would want to make sure it is as secure as possible. If a person wanted to bug the new campus, for instance, the easiest way to do this would be to secretly install bugs as the headquarters is constructed. There may also be internal details of the project that Apple doesn’t want getting out for whatever reason.

With that said, it does suck for recent ex-felons trying to rebuild their lives following stints behind bars. At least the construction industry is booming at the moment.