The Verge: Apple frontline workers ‘struggling to survive’ amid ‘untenable conditions’

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Zoe Schiffer at The Verge is out with a new story exploring working conditions for Apple’s “frontline employees,” including retail employees, support staff, and sales staff. The report, based on conversations with 16 current and former employees, says that “complaints about working conditions and pay have largely been ignored.”

The report begins by describing the transition to work from home employment for retail workers:

Employees spent eight hours a day fielding inquiries from angry customers. They were evaluated based on call time and customer satisfaction. As with many hourly roles at Apple, people with high scores knew they’d eventually get better schedules, promotions, and opportunities. People with low scores could be placed on action plans to try to improve.

Apple tried to make up for the increased workload for hourly employees by sending employees in the work from home program a shirt as a gift for all their hard work. When it arrived, employees realized it had a large 14 on the back (for iOS 14) and 2020 printed on the sleeve. These were leftovers from WWDC 2020 — Apple’s live event that had been canceled. 

Across AppleCare, support, and retail teams, the report says that many employees are frustrated with a “disparity in Apple’s financial success.”

Employees also saw a disparity in Apple’s financial success — reflected in the wealth of its executives — and their own financial pricarity. In 2015, Tim Cook announced that he planned to give away his $800 million fortune before he died. “When I saw Tim Cook was saying he’s worth nearly a billion dollars and he plans to give all of that away before he dies, I thought, ‘Well shit, he could start with us in AppleCare,’” a current employee says.

The report continues:

The Verge spoke with 16 current and former employees on Apple’s retail, support, and sales teams who say their complaints about working conditions and pay have largely been ignored. Some say they are governed more by algorithms and systems than actual managers, making it difficult to get holistic help. All of them note that while they came into the job believing in Apple’s mission, they see a profound breakdown in how the company’s corporate values translate to the frontlines. 

In a statement, Apple spokesperson Nick Leahy explained that Apple takes all concerns seriously but does not discuss specific employee matters:

 “We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters.”

The report includes some incredibly dark stories from Apple employees, and like everything Schiffer reports, it’s well worth an in-depth read.

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