The Union Representing Apple Store Workers in Maryland Wants to Prompt Customers for Tips on Purchases

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Workers at Apple Inc.’s unionized store in Maryland are asking for higher pay and additional time off, along with changes that could affect the company’s tightly controlled retail experience, such as letting customers tip employees.

The employees, represented by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, are conducting negotiations with Apple on Wednesday and Thursday. Their latest proposal calls for raises of as much as 10%, as well as major changes to the outlet’s vacation policy, bereavement leave and overtime. [...]

The workers’ negotiators also want Apple to adopt a tipping system, letting patrons offer gratuities in increments of 3%, 5% or a custom amount for in-store credit-card transactions.

“This will allow thankful patrons the ability to express gratitude for a job well done without any obligations,” the union wrote Apple. “All monies collected through this manner would be dispersed to members of the bargaining unit biweekly based on any hours worked.”

Higher pay and better vacation/holiday/leave policies are exactly the sort of things the union should ask for.

But this tipping proposal is so antithetical to Apple’s customer-first retail experience that it feels like a joke, or that the union negotiators have never even been in an Apple Store. They might as well ask for employees to be allowed to vape while working. Asking for something like tipping — on very expensive products, no less — plays right into the hands of those who argue that retail store unionization is not aligned with the interests of customers.

Stores that pay employees by commission create an obvious incentive for salespeople to pressure customers into purchasing items they don’t need or aren’t entirely comfortable with. Prompting for tips on retail sales is just a backdoor commission.

Thursday, 4 May 2023