Apple Grand Central retail store union organizers want workers to be paid at least $30 per hour

Employees organizing a union at Apple’s Grand Central Terminal retail store are seeking minimum pay for all workers of $30 per hour along with improved benefits including tuition reimbursement, more accessible vacation time and better retirement options.

Apple Store Grand Central
Apple Store Grand Central

Kif Leswing for CNBC:

“For pay, we seek a minimum $30 for all workers, built up on a matrix based on role, tenure, and performance,” the organizers said on their website. “For benefits, we seek more robust changes, like increased tuition reimbursement, faster accrued and more vacation time, and better retirement options, including higher match rates for 401(k) and enrollment into pension plans. For health and safety, we look to conduct research into security protocols with customer interactions, and research into track dust, health effects from building materials, and noise pollution at Grand Central.”

An employee-led organizing committee is collecting authorization cards that will determine the level of unionization support at the store. The union needs 30% of about 270 eligible employees at the Grand Central location in order to file with the National Labor Relations Board, a key step before filing a union petition.

If organizers get 30% of eligible employees to sign cards, then more than 50% of employees would have to vote to unionize in order to officially certify the union.

MacDailyNews Take: Why not ask for $100/hour?

Again, as we wrote back in February:

Jobs are valued by supply and demand. The skillset for a retail employee is different than that for, say, a software engineer. Potential retail employees are an order of magnitude more plentiful than software engineers and the wages paid for each job reflect that discrepancy.

You’re not going to get rich working in retail. There are simply too many other people capable of doing your job. Nobody likes to hear that their job is a dime a dozen. Regardless, retail jobs are a dime a dozen.

If retail workers unionize, they can, and do, force abnormal wages and benefits that do not reflect the reality of supply and demand for such positions.

What happens next (besides backroom graft and corruption between union bosses and politicians)?

The corporation is forced to overpay unionized staff to do tasks that, in a free and unfettered market, should cost the company far less. Therefore, to maintain margins and profitability (in order to satisfy the company’s shareholders and the market), the company is forced to either cut back in other areas or raise prices for goods and services. The company cannot “absorb the cost” longterm.

Talk about inflation.

That said, yes, executive compensation is out of whack. Tim Cook is vastly overpaid for what he does. This is because he holds a rare skillset and it benefits the shareholders to have continuity in the CEO position. Basically, Apple overpays Tim Cook in order to have a long-term CEO which provides confidence to the market. A succession of different CEOs jumping from company to company every other year seeking higher salaries would be a negative and justifies Cook’s overpayment. Cook is paid to stay more than for what he actually does. This is why he has vesting targets set years into the future. If he stays, providing continuity, he benefits and so does the company’s stock price.

Not so for retail employees. If one leaves, there’s a line of others to replace them. Sure, there are excellent retail employees and, if Apple’s retail arm is functioning properly, they are being identified and rewarded in order to keep them, as their continued employment benefits the company, the company’s customers, and the company’s shareholders.

If Apple is not functioning properly, unionization is the last resort of employees. Just know that those costs will eventually be passed to the customer. Someone has to pay. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If those unionization costs are too high (which they tend to become over time), it will hurt the company (consumers will look for similar goods and services offered at significantly lower prices) and the retail workers will eventually feel negative effects from that (see: unions and Detroit’s automotive industry, what’s left of it).

Back in the day, unions corrected many wrongs: unsafe working conditions, forced overtime without pay, child labor, etc. None of these situations are faced by Apple Retail employees today. Some retail staffers simply want higher pay than the actual value of their work in a free market, so they want to band together to force it.

In many union settings, workers face limited advancement based on their merits. Union workers’ avenues for advancement are limited as stipulated by union contracts. So, if you are an exemplary Apple employee today, your prospects are likely brighter than if you were part of a union, subject to certain union rules governing advancement, etc. Retail employees should carefully consider the pitfalls of unionization and the consequences of unintended consequences.

Apple should do all it can, within reason, to satisfy and compensate retail employees. In fact, Apple appears to be doing so. Just this month, Bloomberg News reported that Apple will significantly increase wages and benefits for American retail workers amid a tightening labor market.

Apple adopted the following changes for U.S. workers beginning on April 4th:

• Raises ranging from 2% to 10% depending on store location and role, for salespeople, Genius Bar technical support staff, and some senior hourly workers.

• Doubling paid sick days for both full-time and part-time workers. The days can be used for mental health leave and taking family members to the doctor. This change will give full-time workers 12 paid sick days, instead of six.

• Workers receive more annual vacation days, beginning at three years of employment instead of five.

• Part-time employees will now get as many as six paid vacation days for the first time. Another first: They’ll get paid parental leave. That benefit will cover up to six weeks and will include the ability to gradually ramp up work time for the first four weeks back.

• Part-time workers also will get access to discounted emergency backup care for children or elderly family members.

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  1. If we don’t get everthing we want and unicorns too, we will hold our breath until we turn blue and through ourselves on the floor and have a tantrum.

    Don’t let the door hit you in the ass…….

  2. “Workers receive more annual vacation days, beginning at three years of employment instead of five.”

    I’m not big on unions, but this is entirely lame. People should be able to accrue vacation days from the get-go, and should be able to start using them after six months at the latest.

    If Apple wants premium employees, they will need premium compensation and benefits in this labor market. In my neck of the woods, fast food restaurants can’t even find enough employees to run a breakfast shift, even extremely profitable/popular places like Chick-fil-a have dropped shifts. The good news is High School/College age kids can make a decent amount of money if they’re willing to work hard. And both my sons got nice little scholarships from the fast food places they worked at for the summer.

    Meanwhile labor compensation has NOT kept up with either inflation or productivity in the last couple decades.

    1. “Workers receive more annual vacation days, beginning at three years of employment instead of five.”

      Maybe it’s just me but the way I read that I think they mean increasing the number of vacation days earned per year starting from the 3rd year instead of the 5th. I don’t think they mean that the employee has zero vacation days till the 3rd year.

  3. I have followed this blog for years. Recently it has become far more conservative and focused on politics rather than than the products. I won’t be following any more.
    Apple demands its employees work a full time schedule and have a huge variety of availability. Full time workers would be hard-pressed to work a second job. Why do they deserve to live in poverty?
    That was MDN’s take: let these people live in poverty because if they don’t like it we will find others to live in poverty.

    1. While I agree that full-time shouldn’t have to live in poverty, the position should also not be overpaid. If you depend on a low-skill position to be a lifetime career, don’t also expect it to be above poverty level if you are not willing to increase your skills and find a better paying job. Give the job to people entering the job market as their first stepping stone to gain work experience while training for a better career.

    2. People seem to be confusing “living in poverty” with “living within your means” these days. People making $15/hour have no problem dropping $30 a week on Starbucks, buying a new iPhone every 6 months, and having 4 to 5 $10 streaming subscriptions and then complain that they don’t make enough money.

      Live within your means. Don’t spend more than you take in. If you aren’t happy with your income level, learn a skill or get more educated so you can get a higher paying job.

    3. Obviously MDN’s explanation of why this is ludicrous is over your head. Try this on for size; the person that greets you as you walk into the Apple Store would be paid over $62,000 a year. Understand now?

  4. Back in the day, people thought that eventually, computers and automation will allow people to work less and enjoy more leisure time. But those predicting this never expected the greedy to own most of the corporations and bribe the government. Remember, “work was made for people, not people for work.” Unions are the only ones left to check the greed of these selfish, misguided, unwise people in power.

    1. Unions achieved their goals decades ago and now need to find reasons to continue to exist and collect those dues from their workers. The greed has shifted to the unions. Unions are parasites that bankrupt companies and then move on to the next.

  5. If your job doesn’t pay enough, it’s YOUR fault. Every time you clock in, you agree to the wage. If Apple is not paying an agreeable wage, find another job. These union whiners are too beta to individually negotiate or to go find a new employer.

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