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Did N.Y. Times report drive Apple to be extra generous to workers?

June 23, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • Apple this week gave employees in its Apple Stores more benefits and began handing out raises, days before the New York Times published a report about the company's pay practices for its retail workers.
Apple this week gave employees in its Apple Stores more benefits and began… (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP/Getty…)

Apple Inc.just gave its retail employees more reasons to like working for the company, but after a New York Times article Saturday focusing on Apple employees, it begs to be asked whether Apple was just trying to pad itself before the story dropped.

The Cupertino, Calif., company in the last week announced that its 30,000 U.S. retail employees would get bigger discounts on hardware ($500 off most Macs and $250 off iPads, on top of the 25% discount they already receive), invitations to receive and test its next operating system ahead of its release, and early raises that had not been expected until September -- with some workers getting as much as a 30% increase, according to 9 to 5 Mac.

It all sounded like one of the most successful companies in the world was just passing along the fruit of that success to its lower-level employees. But now it seems as if Apple might have been trying to gain favor with both the press and its employees before the New York Times article was published.

That's because the article, part of the paper's "iEconomy" series, highlights the fact that Apple is able to pay its employees a modest wage without commission or promise of a career.

Despite many of its employees having college degrees and some bringing the company as much as $3 million a year in revenue, the article, headlined "Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay," says the company is able to maintain the structure because there is always a long list of applicants who want to work at its stores.

The article says Ron Johnson, the former Apple head of retail operations, would compare the company's job openings-to-applicants ratio and "boast that it was harder to land a job at an Apple Store than to get into Stanford, his alma mater."

Apple draws from its base of fans for most of its employees, who typically are in their 20s, and from the get-go the company infuses a culture that makes their retail employees feel as though they are working for the greater good, not just money, according to the article. The company also pays wages higher than average and offers good benefits for a retailer.

But many former Apple employees have bittersweet feelings toward their company. In fact, when employees leave, their peers feel happy for them because they've done what everyone else working at Apple Stores wants to do, according to one former employee quoted in the article.

The New York Times says the just-announced wage increases, which are much higher than Apple's last round of raises, came after it first began inquiring for the story four months ago.

When it asked Apple about the timing of the raises, it said, the tech giant wouldn't comment.

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