Apple Retail Store workers in Atlanta file for first union election

Workers at an Apple retail store in Atlanta – Apple Cumberland Mall – plan to become the first in the U.S. to file for a union election Wednesday.

Apple Cumberland Mall
Apple Cumberland Mall

Ian Kullgren for Bloomberg Law:

The proposed union would include 107 workers at an Apple store in Cumberland Mall in northwest Atlanta. Seventy percent of workers have signed cards of support and plan to file an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board Wednesday afternoon, said Derrick Bowles, a Cumberland Apple store worker and member of the organizing committee.

Organizers say wages at the store fall below the living wage for Atlanta. Starting pay is about $20 an hour, below the $31-an-hour living wage a single parent with one child needs to live there, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The union wants to raise base wages to $28 an hour… It’s also asking for bigger raises to offset inflation and greater profit sharing to match corporate employees.

The Apple Store Union’s petition would need to be reviewed by the NLRB, which would then hold hearings on the bargaining unit’s size and other key issues. Apple hasn’t said whether it would consider the unusual step of recognizing the workers voluntarily.

MacDailyNews Take: Boilerplate:

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 February, 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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23 Comments

  1. “Organized labor is organized to take control of an asset away from its rightful owners without paying for it. Organized labor is organization of property by those who don’t own it. Organized labor, by driving up the costs of production through coercive means, destroys industries. Organized labor is piracy without the boats and eye patches. Why would anybody want to celebrate organized labor?”
    ― Douglas Wilson

    1. If actors, musicians, and athletes get to have agents and…
      Corporations get to have lawyers…
      Workers get to have their own scumbags to negotiate for them.

      And contrary to your inhumane thinking, workers are bringing talent and muscle to the party.

      1. Minimum wage in South America can be as low as .17 (cents) an hour. With boarders wide open and the benefits of free health care, free housing, free education and a list of social services a mile long what’s to stop literally billons of people from
        Coming to the USA. Currently 30 trillion in national debt (437,000) per tax payer how is this sustainable.

        How can the USA hope to compete with CCP China when CCP leverages slave labor factories of millions of ethic minorities, governmental promoted systemic intellectual property theft and almost zero environmental restrictions. In a word it’s just not sustainable.

        A person should be paid based on the value the provide to the company. Apple retail employees making 20/hr are doing good compared to the rest of the world. If you make more then 30k a year your in the top 1% richest people in the world. Unionization of Apple stores will ultimately hurt both the worker and the company. The automated robot Revolution can’t get here quick enough. If Apple was smart that would announce tomorrow they are shutting down the store permanently for other reasons. Cancer has to be dealt with aggressively. At the end of the day Apple doesn’t need stores to sell there products.

  2. I cant believe this is really what you all think. If You cant make a living wage it is no longer a job. The power of the employer is too big and mostly driven by one wish: money. This leads to complete draining of the workforce that is on the floor. To balance this power there are two possibilities: better ethics or creating a union. This is a normal part in balancing the free market. Considering the point that you think apples CEO is overpayed, you also are searching for a way to rebalance rewards within a company. Why should the guy/girl cleaning cooks toilet beeren 20000 times less an hour?

    1. Living wage. Don’t LIVE where you can’t afford your WAGE. If you’re not being paid fairly, change jobs. You don’t need unions or laws – just your own initiative. I get it that freedom is too hard for some people.

  3. Look at what’s happening now because these snowflakes bitched and whined for a few years to raise the minimum wage. Everyone wanted to make $15 an hour to do nothing. Now, businesses have raised their minimum to $15 or damn near it and still can’t fill the jobs. Young people nowadays want the money but they don’t want to do the work.

    It’s the same people that lose their higher paying jobs to go work for less money. It might not be the job you wanted, but at least it’s a job and it’ll pay bills.

    Very soon these same people will be bitching and moaning that these illegals coming freely across our borders are taking their jobs for less money all because they didn’t get what they wanted. Entitled much?

    Be thankful you have a job!

  4. This is the worst take I’ve ever read from this website. Apple is the world’s most profitable company and asking to make a livable wage by a company that profits billions a quarter is a REASONABLE request. I sold, in one year for apple, 1,000,000 in iPhones. I was compensated under 40,000. There is plenty to go around and no one is asking to be millionaires, they are asking to be paid fairly. As they should be.

      1. The average employee has very little control over how much they make. At apple, our managers were given a range for raises and the max was 3%. It’s not MY fault because I had no say in the matter. Corporate greed is absolutely a thing and the average worker is NOT compensated fairly. Your comment is hollow, has no substance and is not grounded in reality or in any kind of ethic.

        1. I’m tired of this asinine line that people trot out about not having control over their own lives. You have 100% control over how much you make. You have several options. Let me give you some hints:

          Get a new higher paying job.
          Acquire skills or education to improve your prospects for a higher paying job.
          Start your own business.

          This whole entitlement mentality that people have these days (mostly Gen ME) coupled with the idea that people have no control or responsibility for their own lives is disgusting. Nobody owes you anything other than the compensation that you agreed to when you accepted the job offer. Period.

        2. People have total control of how much money they make. No one forced you to work for Apple. Corporate greed does not exist; people apply for jobs with corporations and voluntarily work their for years. Corporations would be stupid to arbitrarily pay people more than necessary.

  5. If you watch episodes of Leave it to Beaver and Happy Days, Americans could go to their one job and live happily on that. What you’re saying is, that’s not good. They should be exploited and all the money should only go to the super rich and the rest should scrounge for 2 or 3 jobs just make ends meet. Unions are workers’ push-back against such a bleak, inhumane, unwise and unsustainable world view.

    1. I hate to break it to you but LitB and HD are fiction and unions are for beta bros. Socialists need to move to commie utopias like China and Venezuela instead of infesting the US with parasitic unions. If you aren’t being paid what you require, go get a new job. Increase your marketability with training. Start your own company. Create a channel on YouTube. It’s unfortunate that some people had terrible dads who didn’t teach them basic survival skills, including being bold enough to ask your boss for a raise!

      1. All valid legal suggestions. As is organizing with your fellow coworkers and changing the job from within! As well as hiring representation to negotiate for you. You know .. like every smart person does. Hire someone for the thing that they do better than you.

        1. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s not self-appointed victim, emasculated workers who think they are owed a job and top pay who are pushing for unionization. Cumberland Mall is a shithole and I’m not surprised the people who work there are incapable of taking control of their own lives.

  6. I’m always fascinated how Internet trolls, who have bots that scour the Internet, show up randomly at Macdailynews, when their bot discovers keywords such as “Union.” Then they dispense a bunch of one-sided views, and trash whoever disagrees with them . . . then they disappear from the website for another 3 weeks until their bot discovers another “keyword” . . . I understand the game. I know a guy who gets “paid” to disseminate BS on websites. I always feel bad for the regular users, who think that they are talking to a “real person” . . . I imagine with AI, in the future “everyone” we talk to on the Internet will be a bot.

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