New Report Delves Into Poor Working Conditions at an Apple Maps 'Black Site'

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    A new report out today by Bloomberg offers a look inside one of Apple's so-called "black sites," this one a satellite office near Apple Park in California where the company hires contractors to work on Apple Maps. These contract workers were hired by Apex Systems, which staffs and manages a few Apple mapping offices, and creates a "culture of fear" according to former employees.

    One former worker at the black site near Apple Park, on Hammerwood Avenue in Sunnyvale, said that "it was made pretty plain to us that we were at-will employees and they would fire us at any time." Most workers at the office signed up for 12-15 month work contracts, but many didn't make it that long.

    Image via David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

    To hire workers, sources referred to "aggressive" messaging received via LinkedIn. Apex Systems browses the social network to find people with proficiency in mapping-related skills, and then "messages them repeatedly." Former workers then say Apex uses the revelation that the job will be for Apple as a way to tip potential employees over the edge and easily hire them.

    Former workers described a poor work environment with understocked vending machines, long lines for men's bathrooms due to a predominantly male workforce, and restrictions on using the bathrooms designated for full-time Apple employees. To protect Apple's secrets, management instructed employees to enter the building through the back door every day, and to walk several blocks away from the building before calling for a ride home at the end of the day.
    Many workers who took the contract jobs did so because Apex played up the possibility of landing full-time work with Apple down the line, but chances for this turned out to be small. At the same time, many other workers agreed to the contract work to have Apple on their resume, but even that wasn't a possibility.

    At first, they could put "Apple, via Apex Systems" as their employer on sites like LinkedIn, but then in the summer of 2018 Apex instructed all workers to remove the word "Apple" and to describe their employer as "A Major Tech Company Via Apex Systems."

    These differences between contract workers and full-time employees have led to what some sources called a caste system within Apple.
    The Hammerwood office is managed by Apex, not Apple, and in a surprise audit on the staffing company, Apple said it found a work environment consistent with other Apple locations. According to an Apple spokesperson, "Like we do with other suppliers, we will work with Apex to review their management systems, including recruiting and termination protocols, to ensure the terms and conditions of employment are transparent and clearly communicated to workers in advance."

    In November 2018, Apex changed the maximum amount of paid annual sick time from 48 to 24 hours, leading to a protest as over a dozen contractors said they had suddenly fallen ill and left work. Around the same time, Apex suddenly fired about two dozen people. Eventually, many remaining employees left Apex permanently and moved onto contract work at other companies that had better benefits for these workers, including Facebook and Google.

    One former Apple contractor who worked under Apex, Amber Lutsko, was one of the workers who quit before her contract was up because of the company's questionable practices. Even now, a few months after she stopped working for Apex, the company's recruiters still find her through LinkedIn and send her messages about potential employment with a can't-be-named silicon valley company.

    Other former contractors report the same, even ones who were fired by Apex: "You got rid of me because of my quote-unquote performance, and every three months I get these emails," says one of them. "It's insulting, honestly."

    Head to Bloomberg to read the full report: What It's Like To Work Inside Apple's 'Black Site'

    Article Link: New Report Delves Into Poor Working Conditions at an Apple Maps 'Black Site'
  2. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
  3. sputnikv macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2009
    I work in a significantly more hostile and toxic environment. If you can't deal, look for a job elsewhere, and put that you worked for Apple on your resume.
  4. Ramchi macrumors 6502a


    Dec 13, 2007
  5. Baymowe335, Feb 11, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019

    Baymowe335 macrumors 68040

    Oct 6, 2017
    People can be so soft these days.

    There are far worse conditions than a freaking office, lol. Understocked vending machines? Lines in the bathroom? Are they serious?
  6. MandiMac macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2012
    Oh, Bloomberg. Weren't they the ones who "reported" that Apple was being hacked at their factories?
  7. GrumpyMom macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2014
    Okay is this a real article or lifted from an Onion parody on Millennials?

    A sad grey? Really? Oh goodness another suicide net scandal is about to erupt. Damn you, Apple!
  8. justincalif macrumors newbie


    Feb 15, 2015
    It is like a proverbial "Puppy Mill"... from which "Retail Sales" have been outlawed in California. I don't disagree with the concept of At-Will employees... that is LAW in the State of California, but outfits like Apex should be drummed out of business... Everyone has a right to be hire and treated like a human being, not LIVESTOCK!
  9. thasan macrumors 65816

    Oct 19, 2007
    And yet people complain why Apple manufacturing jobs (far more physically and mentally demanding than this) aren’t moving to US.
  10. ricktat macrumors 65816

    Feb 18, 2013
  11. AngerDanger macrumors 68040


    Dec 9, 2008
    Wow… maybe Apple Maps aren’t bad; maybe they depict the world as it would be if working conditions for Apple Maps employees were fair…

    My house would be in that adjacent field.

    That thrift shop just outside of town… would cease to exist.

    The office would be in the middle of a lake.

    In an ideal world.
  12. kildraik macrumors 6502a


    May 7, 2006
    I can’t decide if the contracted employees are lemmings with adult-baby groupthink, or are jealous they don’t get Apple’s spectacular benefits since they’re with Apex.

    Either way, it’s outrageous there are lines for the men’s restroom. :rolleyes:
  13. G5isAlive macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2003
    The aggressive impersonal email hiring campaign should have been the first clue. But yeah, most of this sounded like a parody. Did someone really complain that managers would break up BS sessions at the water cooler?
  14. jscooper22 macrumors regular


    Feb 8, 2013
    Syracuse, NY
    "Poor Working Conditions at an Apple Maps 'Black Site'" makes it sound like Jesse chained up in the meth lab. A well-stocked vending machine is a perk, not a right. Unemployment is low. Quit.
  15. macguru212 macrumors 6502


    Apr 17, 2009
    Sounds like APEX stinks. People there should stage a walkout.

    But these days I've noticed that people are a bit soft - you are there to work.
    Of course, finding the right balance of environment/slavery is key to survival and happiness anywhere.
  16. macfacts macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2012
  17. BODYBUILDERPAUL macrumors 65816

    Feb 9, 2009
    Such empathy! Not quite as easy as that for many people! You'd make great management there!
  18. mtneer macrumors 68030


    Sep 15, 2012
    Who are these people - did they wake up from a coma in the 1960’s?? Welcome to Corporate America the rest of us make with. It’s the freakin SF Bay Area. They can all easily quit and find another tech job before they are done with breakfast...
  19. JRobinsonJr macrumors 6502a

    Aug 20, 2015
    Arlington, Texas
    Very true, but everyone has their own perspective. To me this sounds like a call center, where employees are expected to be online for X minutes per hour/day and are tracked. There are plenty of positions where this isn't a factor. I've worked in jobs where I was expected to track my time to the minute. Haven't had one of those in 30+ years. As your career progresses you get skills and are driven to do more.

    Is it annoying? Sure. Is it degrading? Perhaps. If so, go find another job!
  20. BODYBUILDERPAUL macrumors 65816

    Feb 9, 2009
    Truly repugnant that companies like this have the arrogance to treat humans like dirt.
    These are the kind of places and management style that I laugh at and stay well way from.
  21. Rafterman macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2010
    Some of you must work for crap companies to try and defend Apex. The quality of a company's product is often representative of how they treat their employees. Motivated employees work better.
  22. phpmaven macrumors 68040


    Jun 12, 2009
    San Clemente, CA USA
    understocked vending machines? Oh the humanity! :rolleyes:

    Slow news day?
  23. TonyC28 macrumors 65816


    Aug 15, 2009
    Seems like an odd level of secrecy for a project that just about everyone knows Apple is working on. But even so, understocked vending machines are pure evil.
  24. mrjohnnyglass macrumors member


    Aug 4, 2012
    Having worked for a contractor at Apple twice, I can 100% vouch for the idea that a "caste" system is in place. First off, they give you badges with a silver color, and all Apple Standard employees have a colored badge. You get looked down upon by EVERYONE when they see your badge. You can't use the company facilities like gym, pool, and can't pay for your lunch via your badge like other employees. When 3rd-party vendors come in to do demos, you aren't allowed to see them. On product launch days, you don't get details on new products, and aren't allowed to say things to customers on the phone that someone next to you might be able to say just because they're an actual Apple employee. All of your calls are live monitored in real time. I've seen people say something incorrect on the phones and they will literally come over to their desk on the phones and when they hang up, tell them to pack their things and please exit the building, escorted by security.

    I was in the sales department, but there were absolutely unreasonable metrics set that were borderline unattainable, even by top reps that were contractors. Contractors also have different metrics than standard employees. Also, Apple pays these staffing companies comparable to what they pay internal staff, and then those staffing companies (Volt, I'm looking at you), take almost half, and leave you with $15-$17 per hour, with no commission.

    All the while, they dangle this carrot of "If you do well, Apple will hire you directly". In my two contracts of a year and a half total, I saw probably 3 people get hired out of 600 contractors that were utilized during that period.

    It's a ******** way of doing business. Granted, I was young and wanted the work experience, which is why I did it. However, I would NEVER recommend it to anyone, and suggest finding gainful employment elsewhere.
  25. AgentElliot007 macrumors 6502

    Mar 22, 2010
    Wow, they get paid sick time at all? That’s better than I’ve had at any contractor job. This is laughable. Everyone knows contractor work isn’t ideal, but it’s necessary from time to time and can still be lucrative. I don’t really like it but it is what it is, and it’s hardly that bad. Under-stocked vending machines and water cooler chit chat cut off. Harsh. This reminds me of Michael Scott’s office safety demonstration episode. Nerf ball.

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