Apple gives retail workers flexible hours amid union threats

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Apple is feeling the heat from labor activists. 

The iPhone maker is rolling out improvements to its retail scheduling policies in an attempt to placate dissatisfied workers amid a unionization push, Bloomberg reported

Apple will up the amount of time between retail workers’ scheduled shifts to 12 hours from 10 and will allow them to choose a dedicated weekend day off every six months, according to the outlet. 

The Tim Cook-helmed company will also reportedly no longer schedule retail workers to work for more than five days in a row, with possible exceptions for especially busy periods like holidays and new product launches. Previously, Apple could schedule workers up to six days in a row.  

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The news comes as Apple retail employees in Towson, Md., are expected to vote in a union election on June 15. Apple retail workers at New York City’s Grand Central Station store and at a location in Kentucky are also pursuing union drives. 

However, union activists also faced a setback on Tuesday when organizers at a store in Atlanta pulled their plans for a union election, slamming Apple for what they claimed were “repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act” that “have made a free and fair election impossible.” 

Apple store
Apple retail employees in Towson, Maryland are expected to vote in a union election on June 15.
REUTERS

Apple has taken several steps this year to appease disgruntled retail employees amid an ultra-tight labor market. 

In May, Apple hiked the minimum hourly pay rate for retail workers to $22 — a 10% increase from the previous year. And in February, Apple confirmed it would offer more vacation time and sick days for Apple store workers after some grumbled about their benefits. 

Apple shares were down 4.3% on Friday amid a broader tech stock slump. The company has faced questions about the resilience of its supply chain, which relies heavily on China. 

Workers at an Apple factory in Shanghai have rioted over the facility’s draconian rules, which include requirements that they work, eat and sleep on site or in nearby “bubbles.” 

Apple is set to kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, where it traditionally shows off new software and updated versions of its iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS operating systems. 

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