Reach for the Sky, Pando

Mark Ames took the aforelinked SF Chronicle report on Apple’s policy of not hiring convicted felons (or those facing pending felony charges) to work on the construction of its new campus and Pando’d the hell out of it, starting with the headline: “As Tim Cook Criticizes Indiana, Apple Imposes Labor Discrimination in Its Own Backyard”. I’m not saying Apple’s no-felons policy is sound — I don’t know — but I feel safe saying that not hiring felons for construction jobs is not even in the same ballpark as a statewide law allowing for discrimination against people based on their sexuality.


Roughly 30 percent of Americans have a criminal record — arrest or conviction — that would show up in background checks, according to the US Department of Justice. The National Employment Law Center says that one in four California adults has either an arrest or conviction record.

Ames either doesn’t know what a felony is, or he does know and is deliberately misleading Pando readers by citing an unrelated statistic. (Wikipedia: “In the United States, where the felony/misdemeanor distinction is still widely applied, the federal government defines a felony as a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year.”) Most crimes are not felonies. It’s pure bullshit to imply that 30 percent of Americans are banned from construction jobs at Apple’s new campus.

Here are some statistics from a 2010 study by John Schmitt and Kris Warner for the the Center for Economic and Policy Research, “Ex-Offenders and the Labor Market” (PDF):

In 2008, about one in 33 working-age adults was an ex-prisoner and about one in 15 working-age adults was an ex-felon. About one in 17 adult men of working-age was an ex-prisoner and about one in 8 was an ex-felon.

1-in-8 working age men is an eye-opening number to be sure, and construction workers are overwhelmingly male, but that’s not even close to Ames’s “30 percent” figure.

Back to Ames at Pando:

Apple’s legally dubious hiring policy imposed on the two lead construction companies hired to build Apple’s new offices — Sweden’s Skanska, and Redwood City-based DPR Construction — comes as the company is playing progressive corporate leader in the pushback against Indiana’s anti-gay “religious liberty” laws. Apple is also trying to rewrite its dark past under Steve Jobs by releasing a new, Apple-authorized history of the company, Becoming Steve Jobs.

Apple did not “authorize” Becoming Steve Jobs. Apple did not “release” it. Four Apple executives cooperated with the book’s authors by granting interviews, as did several former employees and Jobs’s widow. Interviews. Apple had no control over the content of the book.

I’ve included Ames’s hyperlink on “dark past”, which points to a year-old Pando story — by Ames — on Steve Jobs’s incriminating emails in the no-poaching antitrust case against Apple and a slew of other tech companies.

Consider that authors Schlender and Tetzeli cover the lawsuit in the book and even mention the same callous “:)” email from Jobs. From Chapter 16, “Blind Spots, Grudges, and Sharp Elbows”, p. 381:

Emails subpoenaed during the investigation show that Steve was clearly involved. They also show him taking mordant pleasure at the fact that a Google recruiter was fired for poaching an Apple employee, after Steve had complained to Eric Schmidt, who was then CEO of the giant search engine company. When Jobs heard the news, his email reply was a smiley-face icon. Steve was hardly the only CEO to be caught with incriminating emails, but he was the only one shown making light of the personal impact of the collusion. Other chief executives seemed motivated primarily by a desire to not piss off Steve, who had become the most powerful employer in the technology business.

That’s some “rewrite”. A real whitewashing.

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