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Security guards protest low wages, block Apple San Francisco store

updated 09:56 pm EDT, Thu August 28, 2014

Protest accommodated until doors to store blocked

A group of corporate and retail security guards for Apple stores staged a peaceful protest of what they consider to be low pay relative to other employees at the company's flagship San Francisco store on Thursday. The issue the guards were drawing attention to is not one specific to Apple, but endemic among tech firms in Silicon Valley -- who collectively tend to pay cleaning, support, maintenance and security staff lower wages on average than regular employees.

The protesters held signs and peacefully occupied the store for around an hour until they began blocking the entrance to the store, which policed deemed to be a safety hazard, reports Valleywag. Store employees had originally planned to simply accommodate the protest, but when the doors were blocked police began arresting and removing the protesters, saying that they refused to obey police orders to clear the entryway. At that point, the demonstration was declared illegal. Around a dozen people were arrested without resistance.

According to Working Partnerships USA, the average pay of Silicon Valley security guards is around $14.17 per hour. While in many areas of the US this rate might seem above average, the cost of living in the San Francisco and surrounding areas is very high. Most guards get fewer than 30 hours a week, and many are considered independent contractors, meaning their taxes come out of that hourly wage. National Public Radio did a profile of one of the companies Apple uses to supply guards in the Silicon Valley area late last year, and reported that while salary was around $16 per hour, a typical guard would be lucky to take home $1,400 per month from such work after taxes.

The protesters were said to have held signs identifying themselves as members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) labor organization, with slogans including "Invisible No More" and "Opportunities for All Our Communities," a reference perhaps to Apple's recent admission that its workforce was not as diverse as the company would like. Some members live-tweeted the events, using the hashtag #techcandobetter, suggesting that the highly-profitable major employers of the area could afford to provide closer to regionally-average wages for support staff.

by MacNN Staff



  1. ElectroTech

    Junior Member

    Joined: 11-26-08

    If they are qualified for a job that requires more than high school education and are doing something that adds to the bottom line then they might have a case for higher wages. With the skill set they have, they should be able to work anywhere else and make huge wages for that kind of 'standing around' work!

  1. ctt61

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-21-05

    Every now day that they are worth more. May be they should obtain more skill and it might bump their salary up higher.

  1. Mike Wuerthele

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    This isn't an Apple issue -- it's a contracting company issue, as Apple (and nearly everybody else) uses third parties to contract security out to. Sure, Apple could pick a company that charges more, and hope it gets passed on to the people, but there's no guarantee of that.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    Then shouldn't these people protest against their boss (Apple's contractor), instead of Apple? Don't see the benefits of them doing this unless the contractor (their boss) has some sort of long term agreement with Apple like Foxconn.

  1. Mike Wuerthele

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    They should, but an Apple store is more photogenic and attention grabbing than a nondescript office building in an industrial zoned area.

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 09-17-99

    EstaNightshift is right. The point of a protest is not only to air your demands to those that can change them, but to raise awareness of the problem.

    Everyone should be able to earn a liveable wage. It's shameful that minimum wages are not that high.

  1. JackWebb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-31-07

    There's a small indictment on the tax rates. Do they protest that? The job market is only ever hampered by government. $14-$16 is already above that but there are lots of costs to employing. If they can get better pay doing something else, that's their way up. I'd like to see the minimum wage eliminated so my kids could have gotten jobs this summer. They and millions of others including 2nd earners don't need "livable wages" and could use the job experience to get a better job later. Their only choices are to volunteer and that pays 100% less.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    "The job market is only ever hampered by government." BWaaaahaahahahahahahaha! Priceless.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    And volunteering for a good cause isn't a great way for people who don't need the money to earn valuable job experience and make contact in areas that interest them because ....??

    Be VERY careful what you wish for when you wish for no minimum wage. People who espouse that position **really** haven't thought through the consequences of that position very well, I find.

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