Do Apple Retail Employees Really Need Their Own Union?

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If you look at the almost 700 reviews by Apple employees left on and you hone in on the reviews left by employees who work at Apple’s retail stores, you’ll notice the same basic complaints: It’s a stressful job, the hours are long, you get scheduled when you don’t want to work, management treats hourly employees like lesser humans, the pay sucks, you have to be on your feet all day, and on and on and on.

It could be a description of any retail job, really. The difference is that Apple is held to a higher standard because it’s so good at marketing its products that people think it’s an infallible company. Its motto, as this Apple Retail Workers Union that may or may not succeed points out, is, “At Apple, our most important resource, our soul, is our people.”

People, whether they work for Apple or not, want to believe that’s true. And maybe it’s true inside the hallowed halls of Apple HQ but I’m guessing there’s another unspoken motto that says, “Make more money than we did last quarter—the bigger the margins, the better.”

Down on the front lines of retail, it’s low pay, long hours, and not a whole lot of upside for hourly employees. Apple’s ace in the hole, though, is that it’s so good at marketing its products that people not only want to buy them, but they actually want to sell them, too.

And for every unhappy one, you’ll likely find plenty of happy retail employees working for Apple and plenty more to fill the positions of the ones who leave. Many Apple retail employees are also huge fans of Apple products, so it’s seemingly a worthwhile tradeoff for them to put up with all the downside that goes along with working in retail.

I had the same feeling when I took my first job selling computers (no commission) at Best Buy back in 1995. The hours were long and the pay was awful but I was making a little more than all my other friends and I was surrounded by computers all day, which made it all totally worth it.

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