Sunday, June 12, 2011

E-mail to Steve Jobs

Subject: Apple Retail Workers Union


I think it would be a good thing for Apple to embrace the unionization of its retail employees.

In an age when corporations are doing everything they can squeeze more and more productivity out of their workers, said workers' ability to achieve a decent standard of living is falling by the wayside.

I come from a union family. My Dad, Jess Puente, was born in San Fernando, California, in 1924 but was taken to Spain by his family when he was only a few years old. After his father died, Dad had to drop out of school at age 11 to help support his family as a laborer in Franco's Spain. It wasn't until the end of World War II that he returned home to the states, having joined the U.S. Navy through the U.S. Consul in Santander, speaking only Spanish. Dad went back to school but he only made it through a roughly seventh grade equivalency. Despite this limit on his education, despite learning English as a second language (which he speaks with a strong Castilian accent), Dad worked as a grocer--a produce man in supermarkets all over Los Angeles--and was able to own his own car, several homes in the Los Angeles area and raise five children. How was he able to accomplish this despite working in retail, the challenges of a limited education as well as cultural and linguistic roadblocks?

It's simple: Dad belonged to a union. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770. A union that made sure he could earn a decent living wage in exchange for his hard work despite limitations that today would condemn anyone with a similar background to a life of poverty.

Many corporations can afford to pay their retail employees a better wage--a living wage--but they refuse to do it because it cuts into their bottom line. Apple could be different. It can certainly afford to be. I don't have to tell you how Apple has set numerous trends in technology. I would love to see Apple set a new trend in how American corporations take care of their retail employees.

Food for thought.



Joseph L. Puente
...since 1974