Apple vs. Its Workers

Several large American companies have received sharp complaints from their workers about pay and working conditions. The most well-covered of these by the press are Amazon and Starbucks. According to a new report from Bloomberg, the latest case is with Apple.

The National Labor Relations Board investigators say Apple prevents some of its employees from disclosing the compensation and “engaging in other protected activity.”

Apple is an odd target. Its employee relationships have generally been considered good. However, in the specific case mentioned, the villain was Tim Cook, Apple’s long-time CEO. He was accused of communicating to workers about information leaks. Confidentially, the argument says, it is a breach of the ability of an employee to share information, which to one extent is personal. That includes information on compensation. (Click here for the American tech companies that laid off the most workers last year.)

Apple is fortunate, compared to most companies that face similar charges, in that its brand is pristine and almost universally admired. A small dispute with a few employees will not hurt that at all.

The lack of a long-term effect proves the value of brand strength. Some companies have seen tremendous erosion of this because of behavior. Meta Platforms suffers from this more than any other large public corporation.

Apple is one of the few companies worldwide that has not had a reputation challenge in years. This may be because management behavior has triggered these problems. Or it may be that, because Apple products are widely admired, any form of scandal will not matter, now or in the future.

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