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Ex-Genius, Apple Retail Workers Union react to retail firing

updated 10:05 am EST, Mon January 2, 2012

Details of incident kept quiet

A former Apple Store Genius and a group called the Apple Retail Workers Union are reaching out to top-level Apple executives following a firing at the Arrowhead outlet in Glendale, Arizona. Neither party is going into many details about the incident, but the ARWU claims in a press release that the Genius -- who has elsewhere identified himself as Chad Ramey -- "was bullied by management to quit or be fired after a simple misunderstanding." The activist group adds that "Rather than let tempers settle the employee was cornered in the managers office and asked a coworker to be present, who then witnessed a confrontation that should never have been allowed to escalate as far as it did."

The ARWU notes that it is trying to contact Apple CEO Tim Cook, as well as Apple's human resources, and Steve Cano, who has been reported as possibly assuming control of Apple retail. The goal is ideally for Ramey to "return to his position at that [Arrowhead] store and that reforms be made to prevent further mistreatment by leadership at that store."

Ramey himself has written an open letter to Cook, stating that "It was truly one of the most heart-wrenching moments of my life when I had to walk out of that store for the last time," since helping Apple customers was something he gave his "entire heart and soul" to do. He complains, though, that Apple Stores have changed "from something truly spectacular and wonderful, to big-box retail that is no better than a Best Buy or a Walmart." He tells Cook that "What was once a truly enriching place to work has become a place that leeches and drains everything from their employees. Apple retail no longer values its people and when I say people, I am referring to both your customers and your retail employees serving you on the front-lines."

Ramey argues Apple retail workers are burning out because despite their desire to focus on customers, Apple management is throwing "increasing hurdles" at them, and treating them like they're disposable, forcing out some of the more talented staff. Specifically he suggests that workers are being asked to handle too many appointments and open more and more active queues. "Most interactions are now completely transactional, rather than transformational," the letter reads. "We are lucky if we have time to ask the customer their name, nevertheless [sic] truly get to dig deeply into their lives and their issues, and further repair their relationships with both Apple and the Apple brand."

"I know this letter may never reach your eyes, but I would feel as if I'd abandoned my team if I never even tried to make a change," Ramey states in his conclusion. "If you truly care about the future of Apple retail, Mr. Cook, you'll return to the foundations on which it was originally based. Create an environment where employees feel wanted and needed. Go back to the days when sales and support were geared toward the customers and not the bottom-line. If you don't, you'll continue to burn through some of the greatest and most talented resources in your workforce.

"Apple is supposed to be a leader within the industry. You set the standards. You can make changes and others will follow. Use that position to better the world of retail, not sink to the depths of those around you. Make the change that will affect so many lives."

by MacNN Staff




    Comment buried. Show
  1. LenE

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Too much whining

    Even for a Monday.

    Customers now check themselves out at the store. The main job of the geniuses and others in the store is to provide a happy face.

    It is plain to see that his attitude is not consistent with what Apple would want to expose their customers to.

  1. LenE

    Joined: Dec 1969


    And the union...

    Does this "union" even exist? To the best of my recollection, there hasn't been a successful union vote at any of the Apple retail stores. If they haven't been voted in at Glendale Arizona (or anywhere else), then they don't have any reason to interject into this sole employment termination issue.

  1. AngryFanBoy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Anti - Labor?

    Interesting thread so far - does this anti-labor bias reflect the trend in thinking overall, or is it just a very vocal minority. Never forget, it was union workers who fought and died over the 5 day work week, 8 hour day, sick time, vacations, etc. Think before you speak out against your own self interest.

  1. chris2519

    Joined: Dec 1969



    i thought this was a well-written letter (despite his accidental use of "nevertheless" instead of "never mind" or "let alone") and something that Mr. Cook should pay attention to. Apple has been one of the few places where you can actually get a retail (or service) experience with someone you can trust, who is educated about the products, and who doesn't just read off a script or improvise with bad information (e.g., Best Buy). If they lose that, they completely lose their edge.

  1. ElectroTech

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Union Worker?

    Do the two words belong in the same sentence? Back 50 years ago, unions were still focused on real issues. Now, they are the most lazy and confrontational bunch of people you can imagine.

    I have a long family history or unionism and I myself have always been held back by the unions to get merit raises. I have been approach by the union and told to not work so hard and to shield my 'union brothers' from having to put in a full days work for a full days pay.

    I applaud Apple for doing their part to create an employee/management relationship that is cooperative and fulfilling. With so many employees, there are bound to be the odd mistakes made by management and this one in the article is an example. Apple needs to keep an eye on the corporate culture at the retail level and perhaps they need to move faster to get a chief in place for retail sales.

    Read more:

  1. savemefromtears

    Joined: Dec 1969


    times they are a changin'

    I was an Apple employee for more than 5 years and recently moved on from Apple. In the past 3 months managers have been pushing employees behind the bar to not only "help and move out" the customer in under 10 minutes, but have also been getting dishing out extreme ill will toward the genius if they are unable to help out 2 customers AT THE SAME TIME. To be honest with you, this isn't even scratching the surface. The amount of horrible changes Apple retail is deciding to make is really puzzling. All the points this article is making is 100% accurate, and it's a growing problem. From someone who has worked in the retail stores and up at the big cheese, I can't recommend working for this company any longer. So... I took my talents elsewhere.

  1. facebook_Aryu

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2012


    Nothing New

    I worked at Apple in a new retail store in 2006 and was blatantly passed over for promotion by far less experienced new hires. My extensive background with Macs and retail customer service meant nothing. The manager (still at Apple) was not shy about her support for "family values" and dislike for g***. She even denied my transfers to go to a different store; she wanted me out completely. It became so difficult to work there, I had to leave. I wrote to Apple's HR dept and ACLU, and nothing but silence. I have tried for other positions at Apple. Once, I had 3 successful interviews for a position, talking with various regional managers, then suddenly I get a "Sorry" email. I have tried for 3 other positions at Apple, and I seem to be black-balled.
    No one asked about, says anything. Nothing. From friends that have worked there (all have quit after a year or two), they say it's getting worse; the Managers act as if they are untouchable Gods, and everyone else is continuously pushed to their limits, frequently forced to quit.
    It completely baffles me how so many companies have c*** as middle managers. My last job required everyone to come to work 15 minutes early, because logging onto their system was seen as the same preparation as driving to work, and you do that on your own time. Serious!
    I had always disliked labor unions, but now I think it is a very good thing. Unions left, and now look what has happened. Much like allowing companies to "donate" to politicians; it strips all of the power from the people.

  1. facebook_Ted

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2012


    Some cheese with that whine?

    It's a retail job people... it's not meant to be a career. You spend some time in retail, you acquire additional skills, and you move on. If you felt you weren't treated fairly working for Apple - quit! There is no end to the opportunities available in the retail space.

  1. lkrupp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    One guy...

    One guy's claim and it's accepted as undisputed fact? There are always three sides to every story... one side, the other side, and the truth. That's the problem with the Internet. So far we've only heard one side of the story and may never know the truth.

  1. 4phun

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Retail Union?

    Was there ever a bigger union than the Soviet Union?

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