Bloomberg published an article on Monday detailing an Apple “black site” for contractors in Cupertino, California, where workers are allegedly treated as “inferior” to the permanent Apple employees at the Big Tech giant’s new HQ.
The “black site,” six miles away from Apple’s new famous Cupertino campus, reportedly contains an “unstaffed” reception area, and workers are “instructed” to “walk several blocks away before calling for a ride home.”
“Several people who worked here say it’s widely referred to within Apple as a ‘black site,’ as in a covert ops facility,” Bloomberg reported. “Inside the building, say former workers, they came to expect the vending machines to be understocked, and to have to wait in line to use the men’s bathrooms. Architectural surprise and delight wasn’t a priority here; after all, the contract workers at Hammerwood almost all leave after their assignments of 12 to 15 months are up.”
Bloomberg also claimed that it is “not uncommon for workers” to leave before their contracts are up, since the workers “operated under the constant threat of termination.”
One former contractor told Bloomberg, “It was made pretty plain to us that we were at-will employees and they would fire us at any time… There was a culture of fear among the contractors which I got infected by and probably spread.”
Contractors also reportedly have many other “reminders of the contractors’ inferior status, right down to the apple design on their ID badges,” less paid sick leave, and an inability to use the gym.
“Places like Hammerwood undermine the mythology of Silicon Valley as a kind of industrial utopia where talented people work themselves to the bone in exchange for outsize salaries and stock options. A common perception in the Bay Area is that its only serious tech-labor issue is the high cost of living driven by the industry’s obscene salaries. But many of those poorer residents work in tech, too,” Bloomberg noted. “For decades, contractors and other contingent workers have served meals, driven buses, and cleaned toilets at tech campuses. They’ve also built circuit boards and written and tested software, all in exchange for hourly wages and little or no job security.”