According to the Daily Mail, workers at the Apple store at Maryland's Towson Town Center want the Cupertino, California-based tech giant to put in place an option for customers using their credit cards to tip staff. It added that the workers want either a custom tip amount or between three percent and five percent of the price of an item a customer buys. In other words, they want mandatory tipping at checkouts.
Putting the gratuity into perspective, a five percent top on the latest MacBook Air that sells for $1,199 would equate to a $59.95 tip.
"Though we do not see tips as a major way of generating income, we wanted to create an acceptable system that allows the occasional customer the ability to reward our team for their hard work," the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE), the union which represents the Apple staff, posted on Twitter.
"We understand there are a lot of concerns about the culture of tipping as a whole in the U.S., but there is currently no other mechanism that would work otherwise."
CORE's appeal came up after shoppers at the Maryland store complained about increasingly being asked to tip at self-checkout machines despite having no interaction with store staff. Under current Apple policies, store workers who accept a tip directly from a shopper will automatically be fired.
According to some staff members, buyers often "insist" on leaving money for them after a purchase. But instead of going to employees' pockets, the money goes into a safe to be surrendered to the parent company.
"The row comes amidst a nationwide backlash over 'tipflation,' which has seen tipping culture spill out from bars and restaurants and into coffee shops and take-away stores," the Mail wrote. "While shoppers can say no, they have often complained they felt 'guilt-tripped' into agreeing to the surcharge."
CORE explained in its proposal about the tipping option that the total amount collected in this manner would be disbursed to members of the bargaining unit every two weeks, based on any hours worked. Though the union did not specify the transactions that would require a tip, they could be extended to all transactions – whether it's one-on-one help at the Genius Bar or a simple product purchase.
The request did not sit well with some customers. "Tips for what? Assisting a customer in picking out the latest Apple device? Give me a break," remarked one Twitter user.
Bloomberg reported that the gratuity option proposal is just part of the negotiations between CORE and Apple. The labor union is also asking for a 10 percent salary increase, expanded vacation pay and time off based on years of service. On top of that, it is seeking double pay for staffers who work more than eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.
Moreover, CORE is also seeking to extend bereavement leave of 10 days per occurrence to up to 45 days per year – and is also working on amending the policy to include pets and close friends. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Related: Apple tells workers they must take COVID-19 vaccine boosters, even if it kills them.)
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