Apple Stealing from Employees

Apple SucksAnother article that I’ve been waiting to write about is Apple’s theft from their employees. It amazes me that Apple has such a good reputation among young, liberal minded people. They are, in fact, a horror of a company. After all, Walmart may treat its employees poorly, but at least they hire a lot of them. Apple has a small core of employees that its treats about as well as any high tech firm. Then there is most of its American workforce (70%): the Apple Store employees who are little more than minimum wage slaves. And then there is the factory workers outside the country who are treated despicably. And this is all in support of one of the most profitable companies in the world that has been sitting on tens of billions of dollars in cash.

It turns out that working for Apple is even worse than this. Two weeks ago, Matt Yglesias reported on a class action lawsuit against Apple by its own employees at its retail outlets. Because Apple sells very small devices that sell for big bucks, all Apple Store employees are physically searched before leaving the store. I’m sure it isn’t what people have in mind when they think of the “Apple lifestyle.” Yglesias offers an apologia of sorts for this behavior on the part of Apple. But I wonder. After all, people work at all kinds of retail places where there is plenty of cash and those businesses manage to get by without pat downs. But regardless, Apple does it and it is so super keen that young people just love to work in those sterile white rooms.

The lawsuit isn’t about that at all. It turns out that Apple requires their employees to clock out before they are searched. So the minute or two that it takes for the search is something that Apple just can’t afford. And remember: this is a lawsuit. It must be the case that employees have been asking Apple to change this policy and Apple has refused. Remember: Apple has much more cash than it knows what to do with. But paying its employees another 50 cents per day is not one of those things they can use their money for. Yglesias explained the situation:

But one way or another, it’s indefensible. And that’s particularly true because of Apple’s larger corporate and financial structure. It obtains extremely high gross margins on the stuff it sells, and it’s not even coming close to using all that money to fuel new investments and expansion. Recently they’ve started taking some of their enormous surplus and kicking it out to shareholders as dividends and repurchases, which is a bit lame. But the bulk of Apple’s profits are absolutely idle. And it’s pretty clear that financial markets drastically discount the value of Apple’s hoarded cash on the perfectly reasonable grounds that the company seems to have no idea what to do with tens of billions of extra dollars. Tim Cook could stop shortchanging these Apple Store guys and leave nobody at all worse off.

Yes, they could. But that is not the Apple way. It’s a really vile company and I’m glad that Google and Samsung are kicking its ass. I really do think that Apple’s days are numbered. In 10 years, they could be as irrelevant as BlackBerry. The one thing they have is a good brand. If people knew more about how they operate, that brand would tarnish quickly.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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