Apple boosts staff pay amid surging US inflation

Apple Inc. is raising salaries for workers in the US by 10% or more as it faces a tight labour market and the spread of unionisation efforts across its retail stores.

The Cupertino, California-based company is expanding its overall compensation budget this year, it said in a statement Wednesday. It will hike the minimum hourly pay for its staff to at least $22 (R347), up 10% on last year.

The move follows a pay bump in February after inflation woes and complaints from some staffers about working conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Apple is now accelerating its annual performance-based pay increases for retail and corporate team members by three months, according to an email to employees. The company is contending with unionisation efforts in several parts of the US, including Georgia, Maryland, New York and Kentucky.

In a recent video message to employees, Apple’s retail chief warned, “We have a relationship that is based on an open and collaborative and direct engagement,” and “I worry about what it would mean to put another organisation in the middle of our relationship.”

Companies often announce improvements while battling unionisation campaigns, and by doing so may interfere with employees’ free choice, Seattle University labour law professor Charlotte Garden said in an email.

“The risk is that workers perceive that keeping the improvements is contingent on voting against union representation, and that if they vote for the union, the company will play hardball.”

US tech companies are battling a shortage of talent after many chose flexible options or left the workforce during the pandemic.

Software maker Microsoft Corp. is among those spending more aggressively to stay competitive, planning to nearly double its budget for salary increases this year in an effort to retain employees.

Inflation is also playing a role in driving up pay expectations, with US consumer prices rising an annual 8.3% in April, according to government data released Wednesday.

Apple has approximately 154,000 full-time or equivalent employees, according to regulatory filings. Its starting wage is comfortably above the US nationwide minimum, which has been $7.25 since 2009; New York City’s wage floor is $15.

Like other leading tech firms, the company has so far operated without a formal worker organisation, however, successful moves to unionise at a New York Inc. warehouse and Starbucks Corp. cafes across the country have given impetus to new campaigns.

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Apple boosts staff pay amid surging US inflation