The Apple Store, located in Atlanta’s Cumberland Mall, is the first of the company’s 272 retail stores to run for a union election. Employees have written an open letter explaining what changes they are pushing for: fair compensation and transparency about alleged pay inequality within the company, a commitment to promote more BIPOC employees to leadership positions, and increased COVID-19 safety measures in the workplace. stores.
“We want to have a voice in our workplace,” says Elli Daniels, a retail employee and union organizer. “We’re doing this because we love Apple and we love our job and we want to make sure that we can continue to love the company as much as we do now. We are not doing this because we want to turn our backs on the company.”
On Friday, a group of Cumberland retail employees said they plan to walk into the break room at work and post the vision statement for all employees to see.
In the letter, the workers write that they work for the tech giant “because Apple’s public values align with ours.” They add: “We’re here to keep up with them and we want Apple to do the same.”
The implication is that these corporate values do not always translate to the front line. During the pandemic, workers complained that while Apple led the retail industry in implementing COVID-19 safety measures, managers at certain retail stores pressured employees to come to work while experiencing symptoms.
“We had so many supporters when we started organizing because of everything we went through with COVID,” says Daniels. “The store opening, the store closing, the need to work from home, not having a say in what that looked like. You never knew what you were getting into or if customers were wearing masks if not. People really identified with the need to have a voice at work.”
The complaint reflects a broader sentiment among Apple’s hourly workforce. While retail workers are responsible for bringing the company’s customer experience to life, often feel ignored by Apple executives.
As Apple continues record record profitRetail employees also feel left out of the company’s success. Retail workers start at $20 an hour with the opportunity for annual raises, which can range from 1 to 4 percent. (This year, Apple increased that to 10 percent for certain employees.) Employees increasingly feel that these raises don’t keep up with inflation or the rising cost of living in their region.
News that Apple retail employees in Atlanta were running for a union election set off a flurry of organizing activities in stores across the country. The Cumberland Mall Apple Store is one of at least six stores currently pushing to unionize, according Vice.
Apple has not responded publicly, but the tech giant is work with well-known anti-union attorneys at Littler Mendelson to respond to organizers in Atlanta. In a statement, spokesman Josh Lipton said: “We are fortunate to have amazing retail team members and deeply value all that they bring to Apple. We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full-time and part-time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new paternity leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants, and many other benefits.”
Read the full letter from Apple Cumberland Mall retail employees here: