Apple's retail employees stage a walkout over working conditions

Apple's retail employees stage a walkout over working conditions
On Thursday, we told you about an organization of Apple employees who arranged a walkout for Friday demanding that Apple improve their working conditions. In tweets, the group, called Apple Together, asked consumers to respect picket lines and not shop at either brick and mortar or online Apple Stores. On Friday, the organization disseminated a tweet that included their requests.

About 50 Apple retail workers stage a walkout over working conditions

Apple Together said in that tweet (via AppleInsider) that they demand hazard pay, living wage adjustment raises, healthcare premium coverage and more accessible paid leave. They also are asking for full benefits for part-time workers and protection from abusive customers. And because of COVID, these Apple employees (who work at both the online and physical Apple Stores, Apple Care, and in corporate), are demanding N95 masks for all workers, sanitizer stations, appointments for consumers looking to shop inside an Apple Store, and no loitering inside buildings.

In other words, Apple Store employees don't want to take a chance that consumers browsing inside one of Apple's retail locations leave them infected. Despite the seriousness of the requests and the job action, AppleInsider discovered that, at least on the East Coast, the walkout was a non-event with approximately 10 Apple Stores in that area reporting only "one or two" workers absent on Friday. In some locations, all workers scheduled to come in on the 24th were present and accounted for.

According to Huffington Post, more than 50 Apple retail employees called and put themselves out sick on Friday. Former Apple employee Janneke Parrish admitted that the number of those participating in the walkout was but a small percentage of the company's workforce of 80,000 people. Still, she called it significant that workers banded together to speak out against the huge tech giant.

The walkout trended on Twitter yesterday and Parrish said, "Apple workers are fed up with being unheard." Her goal is to "make sure people are aware of how retail workers are being treated." She pointed out that Apple's retail workers have an extremely limited sick leave" and collect paid leave on an hourly basis. As a result, many feel forced to work when feeling ill which is not a good thing to do these days as the omicron variant of COVID rapidly spreads throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Earlier this month we told you that the U.S. Labor Department is investigating Apple after several complaints of workplace harassment were filed by ex-Apple worker Ashley Gjovik and others. Ashley worked at Sunnyvale as a senior engineering program manager until this past September. At the beginning of the year, she started speaking out on social media and claims to have been harassed and bullied by her manager and colleagues inside Apple.

Apple grabbed an employee's iPhone to access personal data and didn't allow her to remove or block intimate photos

Gjovik complained that her office was built on contaminated ground from which vapors were escaping into the air ("vapor intrusion exposure"). TRW Microwave used to occupy the area where Gjovik worked.

After complaining about the situation, Ashley said that she faced from her team members and Apple grabbed her phone to inspect it without giving her the opportunity to remove personal data and intimate photos. After complaining to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), she was fired via an email that she received.
There are some connections between Apple and TRW Microwave. A member of Apple's Board is a former CEO of Northrup Grumman which acquired TRW Microwave in 2002.

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Apple Store workers want Apple to protect them from abusive customers. One worker who is employed at the Jacksonville Apple Store said that about 15 people walked out on Friday as a protest against Apple's lack of a plan to help them deal with agitated customers. This worker mentioned a recent incident at the store that took place last week.

"A customer came in and spit on one of our team members," the Apple employee said. "There needs to be a different protocol."

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