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comment by goobster
goobster  ·  622 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: First US Apple Store Unionizes

I'm curious how this will turn out. Unions of tech workers are unusual, because tech workers tend to change jobs every 2 years. There are few - if any - long-term tech jobs that would benefit from the usual union protections... overwork, pay scales, job retention, etc.

I mean if you are a Bluetooth engineer and the product line drops their Bluetooth feature and goes with NFC instead... typical union protections could force the company to keep the Bluetooth feature, or else keep paying you even if your skills are no longer relevant to the product you were working on.

Tech workers at a retail store double-down on all of those issues... these are not "careers", they are "jobs" people work for a short time - usually less than 3 years - and move on to another job.

So now you are working in Marketing at a dotcom startup...

1. What does your Apple Retail Store Union membership get you?

2. Why would they even allow you to stay in the union if you weren't working at an Apple Store?

3. What benefits did you accrue in your 2 years as an Apple Store Genius that is going to help you when you retire?

I'm optimistic that young tech people are unionizing. And I look forward to how they refresh and rebuild the union model from the grift/strongarm/mafia organizations they currently are, into something that benefits both the workers and companies in tech industry roles.

kleinbl00  ·  622 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Unions are a modernization of guilds, and guilds arose to protect skilled and semi-skilled professions back to the Sumerians. "Tech" has become anything involving software in any way, shape or form and my washing machine has software. The reasons tech workers have largely been immune to organization up to now is it's a young industry historically fueled by passionate nerds who can be tricked into working too hard for someone else's "vision." Your every argument is a canard for "Tech Is Different™" which is the same oligarchic argument that turned "Luddite" into a pejorative in Elizabethan England. If I can't order a burger without a QR code? Tech is no longer different.

    1. What does your Apple Retail Store Union membership get you?

I haven't seen the contract but I'll bet wage floors, benefit vesting, retirement and those things that salaried Tech™ workers view as their just due and feel totally okay denying freelancers because they haven't "paid their dues" (lol). Right now, the Tech™ industry is busily defending Amazon drivers pissing in bottles.

    2. Why would they even allow you to stay in the union if you weren't working at an Apple Store?


You work in a union when you need or want union benefits, depending on the labor laws of the state you're working in. You pay your dues, which the union uses to distribute benefits. When you no longer need union protection because you are not doing that labor, you take honorary withdrawal and your benefits are managed in perpetuity (IATSE locals in LA) or dissipated into corruption (IATSE national in New York, I ended up in both).

    3. What benefits did you accrue in your 2 years as an Apple Store Genius that is going to help you when you retire?

Fuck, dude, time off, wage protections and a retirement plan. What's so alien about this? You buy groceries from union members and you don't even know it, why are you scratching your chin about the same protections being offered to people selling iPhones?

    I'm optimistic that young tech people are unionizing.

Your mind has been SO POISONED that you think schlubs at the mall hawking iPads are "Tech™. The fact that the Apple Store workers in Towson are technically machinists matters not a whit - GEICO is the Government Employees Insurance Company and errbody can buy in.

This is literally a bunch of people whose lives are being squeezed by Tech™ insisting that they deserve as much protection as grocery baggers and you're looking at a Brave New World.

BLOB_CASTLE  ·  622 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's actually kind of contentious within the apple union movement that they used the Machinists Union. Most store are talking with the Communication Workers of America, and the long long long term goal is for each store to organize under the same union so we can all eventually exist under the same one together.

kleinbl00  ·  622 days ago  ·  link  ·  

And I sincerely and fervently wish everyone the best. I've known sheet metal union guys, art director union guys, camera union guys, grocery worker union guys and electrician union guys and the local makes more of a difference than the national and the environment makes as much difference as the local it seems. I have absolutely no idea what union would serve Apple employees the best and trust that Apple employees are doing their due diligence.

b_b  ·  622 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Every time I click on a Twitter link I regret it. After clicking through to that dude's profile, I can easily say that I hate him.

kleinbl00  ·  622 days ago  ·  link  ·  

He's a reasonably insightful crypto d00d. Founded Messari, which is a useful platform I'm too stupid to use.

But there's a certain lack of empathy among the crypto crew.

b_b  ·  622 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Any platform you’re too stupid to use is almost by definition not useful.

BLOB_CASTLE  ·  622 days ago  ·  link  ·  

First and foremost, Apple retail is capital R Retail. The product zone sells phones, the backstage team manages inventory, the genius bar team troubleshoots and repairs devices, and the creatives provide instruction on the devices. Many people I work with have been working Apple Retail for more than five years, several are at 10 years+ (I'm personally at three).

3. Retention at Apple is very high because the benefits we currently receive are insane. I work part time to accommodate for the creative endeavors I engage with. As a part time employee I get health, dental, and vision insurance. Not only that, my wife gets them too. Not only that, but you don't even have to be married for your domestic partner to receive benefits. The list of benefits goes on and on. Another benefit that results in retention are stocks. We have a ridiculously amazing employee stock purchase program. In my three part time years I have amassed $15k in Apple stock, including restricted stock units. I'm not leaving this gig anytime soon.

1. A lot more control over the work environment. Apple Retail (and corporate too) is a hierarchical structure, and you have to go waaaaay up the Apple tree to affect change. In our store there are several immunocompromised folks. As retail employees, and even our store leader, had no say in the relaxation of Covid policies as they were handed down from corporate. More control in that sense is one thing we're looking for. Additionally, I'm hoping we can codify the four day work week, just as unions previously instilled the eight hour workday. I don't experience burnout because I work part time. I know my coworkers would be happier if they could also work part time and still receive full time pay and benefits. A lot of what we're looking to do is see how ideal of a gig we can make this, at the world's most profitable company.

2. I'm not sure I understand this question. Are you asking if I'd stay in the union if I ever left my store?

goobster  ·  621 days ago  ·  link  ·  


Thank you for the inside line! My time at Apple was during the dark and depressing John Sculley years, long before Apple did any retail at all. I am SUPER impressed with the longevity of the employees in the store, and the benefits y'all have!

That's all fantastic. I love it.

And yeah - for your last question - my understanding of unions is that they make the day to day work better, but most importantly provide that support in retirement that simply isn't available from companies anymore. Union pensions are why people stay with the union for ever and ever.

If you are 25, work at the Apple Store for 10 years, and move on to another company/career when you are 35... do you get to stay in the Apple Store Union?

People don't stay in jobs for decades anymore... so what is the long-term benefit of being in the union?

kleinbl00  ·  621 days ago  ·  link  ·  

"Vesting" isn't a concept borne of tech stocks, it's an ownership concept that's been part of retirement plans since the government froze salaries after WWII. You vest in your union benefits, which basically changes what your retirement looks like. Unvested? You get a lump sum. Vested? You get a lump sum plus your earned benefits.

One thing unions have been doing since Reagan is increase vesting requirements. When I started in Hollywood it took 300 hours of union work every 6 months to maintain your union status. Then it became 400. They're talking about 450. I needed 5000 hours in order to be fully vested. That number is also in danger of going up.

If you hit vestment you get a pension. If you don't hit vestment you get a lump sump upon hitting the retirement target. This is every bit yours as much as an IRA or 401(k). Of course, every six months I get a letter from my union letting me know what it's going to look like if they can't maintain their investment targets (pennies on the dollar). Your membership or lack of membership is irrelevant - if you were a union member in good standing when you earned your benefits, and you left the union in good standing when you were no longer an Apple employee, you get that pension and/or lump sum. Our landlord at the birth center is a staunch Republican whose last career was as a money manager at Prudential. We joust from time to time; he loves to point out that his union pension is better than mine because prior to Prudential, he spent seven years as a UAW plant worker making turbines for M1A1 Abrams tanks.

The difference between a pension and a retirement plan is with a pension, the company/union takes your money and invests it for you. You then get a guaranteed payout based on the cumulative hours you worked. With a retirement plan you have a certain amount of money to play the ponies with under a tax-preferred investment regime.

Retirement plans are abject retarded bullshit that should be abolished. Let me say that again: the current method of retirement in the United States is criminal and should be abolished. It is the stupidest fucking thing in the world that we all collectively decided that we have a better chance of taking care of ourselves in our old age based on the rantings of Jim Cramer. This was sold to us by the Reaganites and Milton Friedman, who basically wanted the management fees and flows from turning your retirement into Vegas Night at the VFW. In a time when Americans cared about their citizens, professional money managers were tasked with turning a little money now into a lot of money 30 years in the future. Now? Now the boomers get salty when a generation of kids turn to Wall Street Bets to try and scratch out some sort of non-dystopian future.

For the record, people never stayed in jobs for decades - they stayed in careers. We definitely have this idea that grandpa got his high school diploma, walked into the Chevy plant and never left but the fact of the matter is, grandpa had a career that was pretty much the same whoever he worked for or wherever he worked because he was in a union that guaranteed a level playing field and equal worker protections no matter what sheet metal he was bending or welding or whatever.

And just to be clear - I don't blame you for having absolutely no idea how non-dystopian labor laws work. But as an early-age tech worker? Holy shit you're the leading edge of the problem. In a non-predatory economy, a manufacturer's union would get your oath in high school and follow you around throughout your career, ensuring that your hours count towards your pension no matter who you're working for. But instead? Y'all normalized 90-hour work weeks with no benefits because there's a 1-in-100 chance that your worthless stock options won't actually be worthless any-fucking-day-now. Because you're "living the dream." Because it's revenge of the fucking nerds and if you're afraid to fail you're afraid to win. Tech culture is positively sociopathic and prides itself on it. This is the principle reason there are zero fucking women anywhere you look: the basic humanities of workplace protections are absolutely necessary if you want to, say, have a family which made the whole of tech entrepreneurialism assert that anyone with a family doesn't want success badly enough.

but we're fully back to "you mean I don't have to sew buttons until my hands are claws" employer-employee relations and it makes me fucking sick.

UNION CAMERA OP: $600/10, 10 hours go to your pension, guaranteed two 15-minute breaks, guaranteed 1 half-hour provided hot lunch, guaranteed another hot meal every six hours after that, guaranteed 8-hour turnaround, guaranteed worker's comp, guaranteed set medic, guaranteed safe environment, guaranteed ombudsman, guaranteed 1.5 time after 8, guaranteed 2x time after 12, guaranteed 10x time after 18

NON-UNION CAMERA OP: $125/24, we pay your airfare, we pay your hotel, you get $35/day to buy food, you're our bitch from the minute you step out the door

And now you know how Discovery Channel took over the airwaves. The Food Network flacks I met on the plane making that $125/day were on cloud 9, because they were living the dream, because they had no.fucking.concept that they could do better.

I'm fucking lucky. I haven't had to have a "job" since 2007. I'm also fucking good - I haven't had to have a "job" since 2007. So allow me to say from the outside? The reason "jobs" suck so hard is the culture "bosses" have created turns workers into cowering rats.

Boomers on down created a "tech culture" that's basically House Elves from Harry Potter. We do our damnedest to treat our employees right because why pay people to hang around if they hate you and still they come kneeling with things like "please sir is it okay if I take two hours tomorrow to get this tooth abscess drained". Grown-ass women. With graduate degrees. Fearful of whip cracks.

The reason nobody is taking jobs right now is that COVID gave Dobby a sock. I sincerely hope he tells his friends.

Sorry for flying off the fucking handle. I'm just fucking disgusted to live in a society where a bunch of scumbag reg-breaking flophouse landlords get to be called "tech" because AirBnB has an "app." Where driving people around in your car after work is a "side hustle" because Uber has an "app." Where delivery drivers have the "freedom" to keep their seat belts unbelted and have a truckerbomb at the ready because Amazon has deadlines to meet. Unions fix ALL this shit and the Republicans have been so successful at convincing the over-30 populace that they don't deserve dignity or a decent living that people who should absolutely know better are querying random strangers on the internet to find out if the streets are paved in gold out in Towson fucking Maryland.