- An office building where Apple pays temporary workers to work on its mapping service is internally called a “black site,” according to a new Bloomberg report.
- Contractors from the office told Bloomberg they faced a constant threat of termination and did not have access to Apple perks like its gym or cafeteria.
- The contractors officially worked for Apex Systems, not Apple.
There’s growing concern over Silicon Valley’s two-tiered workforce: While some tech employees get to enjoy whimsical campuses, free or cheap gourmet lunches, and daily shuttles to work, others – contractors who work not for a tech company but for a staffing company – get far fewer perks.
There’s been a lot of attention lately on Google’s contractors, but a new report from Bloomberg sheds some light on Apple’s armies of workers who get a different-colour badge and aren’t allowed to use Apple’s gym.
Bloomberg focused on an office in Sunnyvale, California, near Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, operated by Apex Systems. Inside Apple, this office is reportedly called a “black site,” a military term for a base where secret operations take place – the locations where the CIA tortured enemy combatants during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were called “black sites.”
In the Apple black site, contractors making about $US25 per hour clean maps and other data – a painstaking, labour-intensive task.
Several current and former contractors Bloomberg spoke to described some challenging working conditions at the facility, including not enough bathrooms, rules about what you can put on your LinkedIn profile and résumé, and feelings of job insecurity. They said they were even asked to walk down the street before calling for a ride home.
Over a dozen Apple contractors left the office in a protest in November after Apex’s management suddenly slashed paid sick time to 24 hours a year from 48, Bloomberg reported, citing a current employee and an internal email.
Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment from Business Insider but told Bloomberg: “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.”
Apple is known in Silicon Valley for its $US5 billion headquarters, Apple Park, a stunning circular building on a campus dotted with fruit trees. It also has a massive gym and an amazing cafeteria. But Business Insider has previously reported that not all Apple employees, even non-contractors, get the same access to perks.
“Obviously very first-world problems, but having such disparities in quality of workplace environment across the company creates an awkward hierarchy and lack of a unified company culture,” an Apple employee told Business Insider in 2017. “Facebook, Google, Airbnb (magnitude smaller, I know) crush Apple on this front.”
Under the Trump administration, Apple has touted its ability to create jobs, saying it creates 450,000 jobs through its US-based suppliers.
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