Apple employee petition protests forced return to work in office

Apple employees at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters are circulating a petition calling for “flexible on-site work” to continue despite calls from management to return to work in the office three days a week.

The petition, seen by the Financial Times (via Engadget), is being circulated by Apple Together, a task force formed last year due to work-from-home policies imposed by the pandemic. The petition began circulating on Sunday in response to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s order to return to work at the office three days a week starting September 5.

Cook’s memo called “in-person collaboration” a “core” aspect of Apple’s corporate culture. However, Apple Together disagrees, writing in its petition that there are “many compelling reasons” why some employees are “happier and more productive” working from home. The petition calls for working arrangements to be made with each employee’s “immediate manager” and not be subject to “high-level approvals” or require exceptions based on private information.


Related: Interview: Keyword Developers Couldn’t Afford to Work, So They Unionized

Apple Together plans to collect signatures this week before sending the petition to leaders. An unnamed source speaking to the Financial Times said no names will be released at this time “to protect our colleagues, particularly in light of the breakup of retail unions and recent reports of alleged retaliation by from HR”.

Fears of union breakdown are certainly well founded. Tech companies across the United States have engaged in legally questionable and morally repugnant activities to prevent workers from organizing. Working conditions are often presented as a factor encouraging workers to seek union representation. Keywords, a support studio for BioWare, recently saw its QA testers form a union in response to management’s request to return to the office. The Keywords QA team voted unanimously to form a union and negotiate better pay and working conditions, including a work-from-home option.

At least one top Apple AI scientist has left the company to work at competitor Google’s DeepMind, noting the back-to-work policy was a mature factor for the move.

Apple Together also notes that Apple’s market valuation nearly doubled after the company transitioned to working from home in 2020, rising from $1.4 trillion to $2.8 trillion, which appears to contradict messages that Office collaboration is necessary for productivity.

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Jose C. Birney