Apple Store workers hide unionization efforts using Android phones

Apple's caring reputation may be in question.

Photo via JJBers/CC BY 2.0

Initially reported by the Washington Post, Apple Store employees have begun unionization efforts at several U.S. locations and have taken extra measures to guard their plans.

The push for unionization began after the $17 to $30 wages were not increased to accommodate inflation rates. At least two pro-unionization stores are being backed by national groups, according to the report. Taking note of the bold Starbucks unionization efforts, both stores are set to file paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), sources told the Washington Post. But Apple Store employees have had to become creative in how they organize their efforts.

Using Android devices and meeting in secret, Apple Store workers have taken precautions to hide their communications from the potentially prying eyes of management. Store managers have been caught eavesdropping on employee conversations, a source told the Washington Post. The shift away from using iOS devices to communicate also stems from the larger concern that Apple may invade the privacy of store workers.

At one location, store managers have taken to the practice of giving employees anti-unionization speeches in one-on-one scenarios. These talks portray unionization as lower pay, lacking benefits, and stifling professional experience, according to one source.

“I have a lot of co-workers and friends who I genuinely love and they do not make enough to get by,” an Apple Store employee told the Washington Post. “They’re struggling and they’re hurting and we work for a company that has the resources to make sure that they’re taken care of.”

Apple employees also noted the financial gains of the company—now valued at $3 trillion—as another point of contention that led to their unionization efforts. Store employees say their passion and knowledge are part of what drive sales to reach such great heights, according to the report. Tim Cook’s $99 million payout was also highlighted by the Washington Post as problematic. Cook’s compensation package is currently being challenged by the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS).

Cher Scarlett—a former Apple software engineer who was allegedly ousted for encouraging transparency regarding equal pay—concisely weighed in on the current unionization efforts.

“If the richest company in the world won’t pay its workers enough to live, who will?” said Scarlett to the Washington Post.