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article imageOp-Ed: Union start-up attempt reveals chips in Apple's trendy veneer

By Justin Crann     Jun 13, 2011 in Business
For years, Apple has been establishing itself as one of the most enigmatic companies in its industry. But an attempt by an employee to form a union is shining a light on the tech giant's inner workings.
Cory Moll, who works part-time at an Apple Store in San Francisco, is trying to form a union to fight for better compensation, the Globe and Mail reports.
It's a move that is almost unprecedented in a company that is known for the devotion of employees and customers alike. But it's a move that will probably not be well embraced by the wildly successful manufacturer of the iPad, iPhone and iPod devices.
It has been noted that walking into an Apple Store, with its trendy-looking customers, fancy lighting and dozens of uniformed employees, is akin to entering a temple.
Indeed, the experience is so common that media outlets have dubbed Apple's consumer base 'The Cult of Mac', a marketing coup for the company in a heavily competitive industry.
The term commonly refers to the fanaticism of Apple users, but could easily be extended to the company's employees. In an article for the Guardian, Chuq von Rospach, an employee of the company for almost two decades, wrote:
Even two years after I left Apple, I still feel like I celebrate two Christmases: the one I celebrate with my family, and the one in January that we celebrate when Steve Jobs gets up on stage and says: "I have a few things to show you today that I think you'll really like."
It's a powerful sentiment, and one that would seem foreign to people who are unfamiliar with the company's business practices. But when those practices are more closely scrutinized, it's easy to see the cause for this attachment between Apple and its employees.
Consider the founding of the corporation's Apple University in 2008. While executives were originally mum on the purpose of the project, a Fortune Magazine article discussing the inner workings of Apple later revealed that it was founded to make clear the vision of Steve Jobs, the company's co-founder, to future executives.
There's nothing unusual about inspiring – and, in a sense, indoctrinating – employees and customers so much that they practically worship the corporation and, by extension, it's top executive. In fact, that is a goal to which every corporation should aspire. But problems arise when employees begin to fear losing their jobs, as the Globe and Mail article would suggest, for doing things that they shouldn't rightly lose their jobs over, like forming a union or being concerned about their rights as employees.
And that fear is not entirely unjustified. Consider the now-infamous meeting between Steve Jobs and the team that worked on the failed MobileMe experiment in 2008 that was also documented in the Fortune article. Reportedly, Jobs spent 30 minutes reprimanding the team and told them, "You've tarnished Apple's reputation... you should hate each other for having let each other down."
Steve Jobs
Apple CEO Steve Jobs speaks at the Worldwide Developers Conference in 2007.
Photo by acaben
After some personnel changes, including the replacement of the team's leader, the MobileMe team eventually managed to get the application working.
Not even consumers are spared the blunt end of Jobs' big stick. Consider the case of journalism student and Apple customer Chelsea Isaacs, who was seeking a comment from him for an article she was writing: after contacting the company's public relations department and receiving no response, she sent the question directly to Jobs, triggering an exchange that ultimately ended with the Apple co-founder telling her to "please leave us alone."
It's not exactly the sort of behaviour that you would expect from the top dog at one of the world's most successful brands, but if you asked Steve Jobs what he thinks about that, he'd probably respond, "that's fine."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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