Apple to withhold its latest employee benefits and perks from its sole unionized retail store

Apple is withholding its latest employee benefits and perks from staff who work at its sole unionized retail store in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland.

Apple Retail Store
Apple Retail Store

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg News:

The company told retail and corporate staff this week that it will increase benefits for outside educational classes and health care, according to people familiar with the matter. Workers will get more funds to pursue coursework, and employees in some states will be able to access new health plan benefits…

But the company was quick to inform the employees at its unionized retail location — a store in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland — that they wouldn’t get the new perks.

The reason given was that the Towson store needs to negotiate benefits with Apple via the collective bargaining arrangement that comes with a union…

Apple has expanded other benefits for workers over the past year. The company previously upped vacation and sick days, and it has long-offered health care and product discounts.

MacDailyNews Take: Good.

For every action there is a reaction. Clear consequences tend to focus the mind.

Again, Apple retail workers are already, and have long been, among the highest paid retail workers around the world. If ultimately bound under a union contract, and the smart employees should hope that never happens, it will get more difficult to work at an Apple retail store, not easier.

If talking sense doesn’t work, Apple should consider more drastic measures.

An employer is free to simply close its operations at any time, even when facing unionization efforts. Apple could then develop and open new retail stores in the same cities with new staff.

The company closed every store in an entire country (Russia) and still posted all-time quarterly results; it could easily absorb this handful of store closures with subsequent relocations/restaffing to drive home the point that:

In a free market, 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 and benefits granted 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” longer term.

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 (over time).

Not so for retail employees. If one leaves, there’s an endless 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. But the cost of their employment must make financial sense, regardless of how good an employee is – if it costs more to keep them than they are worth to the company, they should seek employment elsewhere, not force overpayment / continued employment.

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. — MacDailyNews, May 25, 2022

See also:
• Apple to improve scheduling flexibility for retail workers – June 2, 2022
Apple boosts starting pay for U.S. retail workers to $22 per hour – May 26, 2022
Apple retail chief O’Brien pushes back against unions in new video to retail staff – May 25, 2022

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  1. How can Apple Computer be indirect opposition to President Biden’s corner stone principle that American Unions are the single most powerful force for labor equity and human rights ?

    unions are victories for all of us

    you guys built America

    unions gave workers a voice

    …there must be a mistake. Instead of withholding benefits, Apple should be doubling employee benefits and perks. These oppressed workers are the true heroes and instead of punishing them they should be spot lighting their fight for workers rights. This is very wrong for apple to demote and discourage unions by punishing these voiceless workers that are only seeking fair labor representation. Apple is using its position of power too oppress.

    1. Balderdash. These unionized Apple employees decided to exercise their right to have a collective bargaining organization – a union – and, while not a bright thing to do, they did it. Now Apple is showing them the flip side of it, which is that if they want more than they have, they will have to negotiate for it. And it’s pretty much guaranteed that they will get LESS than the non-unionized employees, because the additional negotiation cost that Apple incurs will have to be factored in to the whole deal. And there’s always the risk that Apple will just decide that it’s not worth the trouble, and close the store.

  2. I’m glad Apple is fighting this big-time. I worked at an Apple retail store. Great experience, great perks (stock options, 25% discounts on Macs and much more). Benefits are great.

    Anyone who does not like what they are getting should quit. Get a different job or better yet, try to start their own company. If these people deem corporations evil and they hate them why do you work for them?! This is a free country, do what you want.

    What I can’t stand is a bunch of suburban-ite kids thinking they are owed something from a company like Apple. “They work me too hard (unbelievable)” and “They use us to make massive profits.” Yah, it’s called labor. Want equity? Go to China N. Korea, where all are treated the same. Well, save for the military teams and those making decisions, but other than that, it’s equity country baby!!!

    I find these people lazy, angry, pathetic overall. And they do NOT want to prove their worth to the company, rather, they want to become a number, a drone, and hide behind a Union to fight for stuff they likely don’t deserve.

    These people do not want to work on Merritt. I know, remember that word? It’s like you achieve based on what you’ve done, not on immutable qualities. It is equality, a level-based playing field, now do what you will with it. Achieve or not. Your choice. Union people hate these ideals.

    Go Apple.

  3. I have a friend who started out as a lowest level Apple Store clerk is a city in one of those “fly over states” (you know one of those cities that few people visit but “fly over from one point to another). Yes, that store opened several years after Apple started opening stores. It’s now a dozen years later had that friend is senior management at Apple (not VP level). That person now routinely is asked to spend weeks or even months in regions of the world where Apple wants to develop expanded or better service and potentially retail stores.

    Yes, that person put in the effort and hours. It paid off significantly. That person is worth several millions due to Apple stock and stock options.

    Almost any Apple store employee could do the same today, especially if they are starting out in some flagship store.

    On the other thread of this piece…
    Unions used to be universally good. Some used to be required in order to push for simple safety and life assurances (not insurances!). Some jobs were paid so little and so inherently unsafe that something had to be done. But, IMHO, there are extremely few industries today that can justify the need for a union. In all too many cases the union becomes more about the union than the rank-and-file workers.

    Just one case in point: My father was on the board of a major U.S. corporation. In their contract negotiations the union threatened to strike and as a non negotiable part of their demand was that the vast majority of the equipment the company bought (including vehicles and major equipment) over the next 5 years was not 100% built in the U.S. The union refused to put that demand up for a vote in front of the workers–likely because the union boss knew the demand would get voted down. The team of corporate negotiators (of which my father was part) showed the union negotiators that if the company had flexibility as to where it bought equipment it could easily meet the wage and benefits demands and then some. The union bosses refused to give in on their demand thus the workers got a lot less while the union bosses could crow about “preserving other U.S. jobs”, which in reality was only marginal.

    1. Your example is the primary problem with unions nowadays. They don’t care about the workers, they care about the union and themselves. They’ve achieved their original goals and now need to manufacture new reasons to continue to exist. The seniority system is a scam and rewards long term mediocrity while newer more productive workers don’t get a chance to advance until it’s “their turn”, which basically encourages those newer more productive workers to be mediocre because it won’t matter anyway.

  4. Worker unions are the middle class so, with the weakening of worker unions, the middle class weakened. And multi-trllion $ Apple is displaying a surprising pettiness and vindictiveness.

  5. I always manage to stay away from MDN just long enough to remember why I stopped reading in the first place, and then y’all post something like this to remind me why you don’t need ad revenue from me.

    1. LOL yeah its probably the worst tech website of all time. Bunch of old white dudes that hate everything just reposting other people’s content. I like to check in once in a while just to get a reminder of how pathetic some people are

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