Rise up

Apple employees create website to push for better workplace conditions

The workers behind #AppleTwo say the company has "evaded public scrutiny" of the way it treats marginalized people within its ranks.

Building signs with Apple logos line De Anza Blvd., in Cupertino, Calif., as seen on Wed. October 7,...
San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images/Hearst Newspapers/Getty Images

An anonymous group of Apple employees appears to be organizing in a push to bring more scrutiny to the company’s treatment of its workforce. A website and Twitter account have launched under the name #AppleToo, a phrase that suggests Apple is no different than other companies when it comes to workplace misconduct and other issues.

“For too long, Apple has evaded public scrutiny,” the website reads. “The truth is that for many Apple workers — a reality faced disproportionately by our Black, Indigenous, and other colleagues from minoritized [sic] racial, gender, and historically marginalized groups of people — the culture of secrecy creates an opaque, intimidating fortress.”

Uncharacteristic — Because the website’s creators are anonymous, employees at Apple are encouraged to email appletoo@protonmail.com if they’re interested in joining the efforts. The group says it is crafting a statement reflecting stories from employees and changes that it expects Apple to make.

Twitter account for the #AppleToo organizing effort.@AppleLaborers / Twitter

The group told Input in a statement that members are still “working together to figure out what the next steps are.” One possibility would be to create a formal union, which could collectively bargain for legally enforceable changes at Apple. It went on to say that #AppleToo was inspired by the company’s efforts to suppress pay transparency by shutting down employee-run surveys meant to give workers an idea of whether or not they were being compensated equally to their colleagues.

Apple maintains a strict culture of secrecy, and as such, it is uncharacteristic for employees to speak out about anything that happens within its walls. Everyone knows they’re paid handsomely for adhering to the rules and maintaining loyalty, but #AppleToo says this enables misconduct including discrimination.

Collective action — Unions have become uncommon in the United States in recent decades, no more so than in technology, where companies have to compete to hire the best talent by giving them high salaries and cushy benefits. But workers can still be mistreated — stories come to mind like that of Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer who wrote a damning blog post exposing discrimination at the company. The fallout from the post triggered major reforms at Uber and contributed to the ouster of former CEO Travis Kalanick.

Unions have the potential to push for changes through collective bargaining. As such, there’s been a recent rise across the technology sector to form unions, including at Google, Medium, and within the technology team at The New York Times.

There are other benefits to organizing. As technology giants have cemented their influence in the world, employees feel a responsibility for them to act as positive contributors to society. Protests over the unequal treatment of outsourced workers like content moderation teams have become more common... and look set to keep doing so.