Feeds

Amid iPad frenzy, Apple staff say 'Remember the workers'

Unionization of Apple retail making slow progress

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The world + dog has been following the announcements from Apple today, but for one employee watching the preparations, the chief wish wasn't a shiny new fondleslab or fancy TV system, but union rights.

Cory Moll, an organizer for the Apple Retail Workers Union (ARWU), popped by the event before clocking in for work at his local Apple store. His goal is to see Apple workers unionize and work towards improving their lot, as staff have in other countries. He and the ARWU, however, face an uphill task.

"It's a very slow process, especially in the US where workers are content with what they've got rather than trying for more," he told The Register. "But it's also a Catch-22 situation – a fair few staff are keen to organize, but are hesitant to do it themselves. That said, it's only a matter of time before organizing starts."

There have been some successes in getting employees of Apple's retail arm to take up collective bargaining. In Munich, staff have formed a worker's council – or betriebsrat – that negotiates with store owners over local working conditions. The worker's council system is traditional in Germany, and legal across the EU, and doesn't require staff to be members of a union to take part. So far, however, there's been very little movement across the rest of the continent.

So far, Moll has had some expressions of support from domestic US unions, but no more than that. He's hoping the ARWU will not need big-labor backing, saying he would prefer that a dedicated union would evolve directly and be run by staff for their benefit.

El Reg has its doubts. The US is not a union-friendly nation for the most part, and managers of many companies are actively trained to quash any signs of unionization – and Moll has cajones the size of watermelons to take such a public position. That said, as the great author John Steinbeck noted, "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

Moll is also not the only one concerned with worker's rights. Watchdog group SumOfUs.org has launched a petition to coincide with the new iPad launch, asking that Apple guarantee that none of their shiny new fondleslabs will be made by staff who are working excessive overtime. So far nearly 5,000 have signed up.

"As Apple customers, we have a right to know whether the new iPad was manufactured illegally and unethically," said SumOfUs executive director Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman. "We hope as much as anyone that Apple has nothing to hide. If Apple releases genuine, original records that demonstrate that there has been no illegal overtime at iPad factories in the lead-up to the new product launch, then we will be the first to celebrate. But until Apple proves otherwise, we can only assume that they are bluffing about caring about workers' health and safety - and we're calling that bluff." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.