Apple Raises Hourly Wages as U.S. Stores Face Unionization Campaigns

Apple on Wednesday announced an increase in its overall compensation budget for employees as the company wants to retain talent in the face of a tight labour market and unionization attempts at several U.S. stores — reports The Wall Street Journal.

The company notified employees of raises in an email on Wednesday. The bigger compensation budget will benefit both hourly workers and salaried employees at Apple. Hourly pay for Apple employees in the U.S. will now start at $22 USD per hour, or higher depending on the market, while base salaries are expected to increase as well.

“Supporting and retaining the best team members in the world enables us to deliver the best, most innovative, products and services for our customers,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.

“This year as part of our annual performance review process, we’re increasing our overall compensation budget.”

Apple has also informed some employees, including hourly workers, that their annual reviews would be moved up three months and their pay increments would take effect in early July. The company usually conducts annual reviews and hands out pay increases at the end of its fiscal year in the fall.

Employees were also told that the pay increases from the increased compensation budget would be on top of any raises or special awards they have already received in the past year.

Apple had already been taking steps to improve employee compensation, including special cash bonuses and money for home equipment as the company shifted to a work-from-home paradigm in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back in December, Apple awarded up to $180,000 in bonuses to engineers in an attempt to retain talent and deter them from jumping ship.

Apple has run into unionization pressure after a retail store in Atlanta became the first Apple location in the U.S. to file for a union election, and stores in New York City and Towson, Maryland soon followed with union drives of their own. Any one of these locations could become the site of the first Apple retail union in the country if workers vote to unionize.

Apple employees say they are unionizing to have a voice in deciding their pay, hours, and benefits. Workers want to push Apple, the world’s (second) most valuable company, to share more of its wealth with its frontline workers.

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant is circulating anti-union talking points to store managers and has even retained the anti-union law firm Littler Mendelson to represent it on union-related matters.

Earlier this week, Apple’s Senior Vice President of retail and human resources Deirdre O’Brien told employees that unionization efforts could slow workplace progress. However, the most effective strategy to disincentivize unionization may just be to increase pay across the board.