Apple joins forces to bring corporate workers into union effort

Earlier this year, Former Apple software engineer Cher Scarlett receives a distraught private message from an Apple retail employee at Grand Central Station in New York. The employee had been working with the union to organize her store, but the partnership disbanded. Adrift, she sends messages to Scarlett to vent.The employee knows that Scarlett is #AppleToo, a campaign that emerged last summer to shed light on so-called workplace discrimination and harassment. Scarlett is an outspoken worker rights advocate who knows who to call.

Scarlett recently met a worker union organizer at a union rally for Starbucks employees where she once worked. “I was like, wait a minute. You’re in New York. Workers United started in New York. I’m connected.” She introduced, and the Grand Central campaign was revived. In April, they revealed their organization’s activities, dubbing themselves fruit stand workers union.

The event is one of several union events at Apple Store retail locations across the country, including public and underground retail locations. They are increasingly drawing support from current and former employees in Apple’s corporate offices, thanks in part to a solidarity union called Apple Together that Scarlett helped form and emerged from the #AppleToo movement . The group’s Discord server has grown to more than 250 employees and provides a space to exchange stories, share resources, learn about organizing, and coordinate events. About a third are from corporate employees, with the rest from retail stores and AppleCare. Several vetted union representatives hang out on Discord, ready to talk to anyone interested in organizing their workplace.

The forum also helps workers recognize when their personal struggles are being shared. “There’s been a lot of people joining our Discord server and they’re talking about how seeing these stories really gave them a voice for themselves,” said Janneke Parrish, a former Apple Maps program manager who helped organize Apple Together. (Parrish was fired last year after helping organize #AppleToo. Apple said her firing was not retaliatory, and Parrish disagreed.)

Apple’s corporate culture is known for its secrecy, shielding employees from each other to protect upcoming products. The secrecy surrounding the product sometimes extends to working conditions, said one Apple Together organizer, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.but between the introduction relaxation With 2019 and the launch of Apple Together, “it’s probably the least isolated situation we’ve had in years,” she said.

The emergence of Apple Together coincides with an inflection point in the company’s workforce. challenging Apple on various issues Pay equity to it Return to work policy. Workers in Cumberland Mall in Atlanta Workers in Towson, Maryland, filed for union elections with the Communications Workers Association of America in late April and this month with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.this Grand Central Station The store is collecting signatures and planning to file.

At the Towson plant, employees want to finally be able to have a say in their working conditions, said Kevin Gallagher, who worked there for a few years. “I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what types of jobs and skills are needed to do the jobs we do,” he said. “People think, ‘Oh, this is a retail store. These must be teens working in college. We have people in their 50s and 60s working here, and they do high-skilled labor.'”

Gallagher remembers how Apple offered customers free battery replacements in 2016, sending victimized customers into retail stores without materially altering staff levels. (He said it didn’t help that exposed iPhone batteries could catch fire during repairs, which is known in the industry as a “hot event”. ), in his view, no one at the company has considered how the plan will affect retail employees. He said the pattern would re-emerge in the months and years that followed, such as when the company rescinded the mask authorization and several of his colleagues subsequently contracted Covid-19. Apple declined to comment for this story.

Source link