Apple’s retail workers say Apple is leaving them out of its success in an open letter

Apple’s retail workers are starting to unionize, with the company’s Atlanta store the first to file for a union election and at least five additional stores to follow suit.

An interior shot of Apple's Store in France with employees wearing masks amid COVID-19 measures
Image credit: Apple
  • Apple’s Atlanta store is the company’s first store to file for a union election
  • Employees are pushing for better wages, more career opportunities and more

Apple store employees start to unionize

Apple’s retail workers have long complained of low wages, long hours and stressful working conditions, but those complaints don’t seem to have ever reached the executive level. Or maybe they have, but they certainly fell on deaf ears. At any rate, retail is one of the poorest-paid sectors (especially at Apple!) so it’s encouraging to see the company’s retail army unionizing to collectively bargain for fair wages.

Employees want to see the following changes implemented:

  • Fair compensation
  • More transparency on pay inequality within Apple
  • Promoting more BIPOC employees into leadership positions
  • Increased COVID-19 safety measures in stores

The Cumberland Mall location is the first of Apple’s 272 brick-and-mortar stores to file for a union election but is certainly not the company’s last one. According to Vice, there are at least five other Apple stores that are planning to unionize.

Elli Daniels, union organizer:

We want to have a voice in our workplace. We are doing this because we adore Apple and we love our jobs and we want to make sure we can continue to love the company as much as we do right now. We aren’t doing this because we want to turn our backs on the company.

Aside from low salaries, stressful working conditions and fewer career opportunities, employees don’t feel like they’ve been participating in the company’s successes (in the past quarter alone, Apple raked in more than $97 billion in revenue).

Zoe Schiffer, The Verge:

As Apple continues to post record-breaking earnings, retail employees also feel like they are being left out of the company’s success. Retail workers start at $20 an hour with the opportunity for annual raises, which can range from one to four percent. This year, Apple upped that to ten percent for certain employees. Employees increasingly feel that these raises are not keeping up with inflation or the rising cost of living in their region.

Some store managers pushed employees to show up at work while they were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Not having a say in the store closures during the pandemic also didn’t sit well with some employees. You can read the full letter that the Cumberland Mall retail employees addressed to Apple’s management ranks right ahead. Read: How to find and know your Apple ID on iPhone, iPad and Mac

An open letter to Apple from Atlanta store workers

Our vision is to create an environment where Apple’s retail workers are compensated fairly, heard genuinely, and treated justly, and to enrich the workplace by building a foundation of care and trust, both for ourselves and our customers.

A world that is more fair, more equitable, and more just is our ultimate goal. We seek to create a space where technology and community combine, which empowers our users to work towards that goal with us. We work at Apple because Apple’s public values align with our own. We are here to live up to them and want Apple to as well.

Apple is the world’s most valuable company, and as we continue to expand and grow, we need the power to ensure that all of our employees are included in the successes that Apple achieves.

But in a company as large as Apple, it takes a lot of people to make a change. That’s why we’re forming a democratic union, an organization run by us, with leaders elected by us, that we own.

What we are working towards:

  • Fair compensation: Transparency around pay inequality, cost of living adjustments, and real living wages for all employees.
  • Career development: Dedication to training and developing our employees for internal promotion as the primary method for filling open roles and a clear path for advancement.
  • Corporate-retail parity: Benefits and bonuses that are in-line with corporate employees, fair RSU allocation, and a matching RSU vesting schedule.
  • Equity: Agreement to recruit, hire, train, and mentor BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, (and) People of Color) employees for advancement to leadership and decision-making roles.
  • Health and well-being: A work environment that takes mental health seriously, promotes and encourages physical health, and advocates for and supports team members with disabilities and/or accessibility needs.
  • Safety: Adequate measures to value and protect employee safety, employee input on operating models, and better enforcement of current policies, on COVID and otherwise.
  • Ideals: An influential role in decision-making to ensure our daily operations match our publicly-stated values, flexibility to allow for civic participation, and opportunities for paid volunteer work.

We love Apple, and we want to see it live up to its true potential. Apple has the power to make significant changes in the way that retail workers across the world are treated, and we look forward to working with Apple’s leadership to realize that change.

For those wondering, unionizing is not illegal in the United States. Since the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, workers across the country have been able to unionize to take collective actions.