A San Francisco Apple Store worker has been making waves by publicly calling for his fellow blue-shirts to start a union, an unheard-of move at a company known for cult-like employee loyalty and consumer following. Cory Moll, the thirty-year-old Apple Store employee, created the "Apple Retail Workers Union" on Facebook last month, citing several injustices: "break schedules, training opportunities, the selection and hiring processes for internal candidates for open positions, and wages." So, Apple store workers don't exactly have the grievances of, say, nineteenth-century coal miners — pretty sure those guys were fighting against more than inefficient "break scheduling" — but if employees are underpaid or being unfairly passed up for advancement, then a union may, indeed, be called for.
Moll, who describes his struggle as "David versus Goliath," has had trouble drumming up support. Apple, which employs around 30,000 people in its stores, is frequently ranked one of the best places to work in the country. Moll makes around fourteen dollars an hour — about four dollars more than minimum wage in San Francisco. The fledgling union's troubles could simply stem from the difficulties inherent in organizing enough workers to make an impact, but it could also be that most employees don't see the need.
So far, Apple hasn't responded to the complaints, and it's unclear if they will. Ignoring them seems like a risk, especially if Moll's efforts gather more steam. Apple makes a lot of money on its incredibly (some would say "blindly") loyal customers, and rumblings of dissatisfaction among employees could disrupt that euphoria. Allowing unionization, on the other hand, seems potentially harmful to Apple's reputation as a fun and free-wheeling place to work.
In the end, I bet this will be resolved without major changes — a few iTunes gift cards and a revised employee advancement policy — since I can't really see Steve Jobs at the E3 Expo unveiling an all-new, sexy and sleek iCollective Bargaining Agreement.