A group of Apple employees has walked off their jobs on Christmas Eve and are urging a customer boycott on the day — when much last-minute holiday shopping takes place.
The worker advocacy group, Apple Together, called for a walkout on Thursday. Its demands include a more respectful workplace and paid sick time. More than 50 retail employees across several states have already participated in the walkout, according to a HuffPost report.
Apple Together also urged customers to boycott the company during the walkout period. “Don’t shop in stores. Don’t shop online,” the organization tweeted. Information on Apple’s website said most stores in the US would be open until 6 p.m. local time on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day.
In a follow-up tweet, the group outlined requests that included protections from abusive customers, COVID-19 safety measures, and hazard pay.
One worker at an Apple Store in Jacksonville, Florida, told Insider that about 15 people walked out of his store on Friday, motivated partly by the company’s response to recent aggression by customers.
“Last week, a customer came in and spit on one of our team members,” this person said, adding that the customer was then serviced by the store’s leadership despite the incident. These types of events have continued, despite calls to leadership for new policies, he said. “There needs to be a different protocol.”
An Apple spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
The walkout is the latest employee action in a year that has seen unprecedented activism from Apple workers, who have called on the company to change certain working conditions for both corporate and retail employees.
One key issue has been worker safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees at Apple’s corporate offices have pushed back on the company’s mandatory return-to-office policy, which has been delayed several times this year, and was most recently planned for January. Last week, the company delayed its return-to-office plan indefinitely, citing the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. Apple retail workers have also spoken out against unsafe conditions at the company’s stores, with several telling NBC News that employees who were feeling sick were forced to work Black Friday, despite COVID-19 prevention policies.
Employees at the iPhone maker have also publicly organized around other working conditions. This summer, a group of 15 Apple corporate and retail employees created #AppleToo, a website for employees to share their stories of mistreatment at the company. Apple then fired two of the employees involved in those efforts. In October, it reportedly fired Janneke Parrish, a leader of the #AppleToo movement, and in September it fired Ashley Gjovik, who had spoken out about harassment and sexism at Apple.