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Apple Shifts Stance on Felony Offenders

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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CUPERTINO, CA—Saying it "may have excluded some people who deserve a second chance,” Apple Inc. has reversed course on a controversial policy that had blocked some construction laborers from working on its $5 billion headquarters in California.

After drawing fire from unions and worker advocates, secretive tech giant Apple Inc. has agreed to remove a project-specific background-check requirement that shut out construction workers with felony convictions on their records.

"We believe in opportunity for everyone,” Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock said in a statement issued Thursday (April 9).

'A Second Chance'

“It recently came to our attention that, as part of a background check process unique to the Apple Campus 2 construction project, a few applicants were turned away because they had been convicted of a felony within the past seven years.

CBS San Francisco

Kevin Yip, 26, says he was ordered off the Apple site in January because of his criminal record.

“We recognize that this may have excluded some people who deserve a second chance,” he said.

Therefore, the company removed the restriction and instructed its contractors to “evaluate all applicants equally, on a case-by-case basis,” just as it would for any role at Apple, Rosenstock said.

The decision to lift the policy was applauded by union leaders, worker groups, politicians and others.

Contrary to some reports, Rosenstock insisted that Apple never had “a blanket ban on hiring people with felony convictions.”

Workers Turned Away

Apple came under fire earlier this month when worker advocate groups reported that some workers were turned away from the job in January due to their criminal history.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that fewer than five people were turned away, citing someone with knowledge of the matter.

The general contractor on the project, DPR Construction, reportedly told union officials that the workers with recent felony convictions did “not meet owner standards,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ironworkers Local Union 377 in San Francisco launched an online petition to "stop the denial of employment to people who have restructured their lives and values to advance themselves and their families."

The petitioners posted a “victory” update Thursday to their 187 signatories.

The union also sent letters to California state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple Campus

Apple's massive Campus 2 project is expected to be complete by next year.

A spokeswoman for Harris, whose office had reached out to Apple about the policy, told the Mercury News Harris was “glad to see Apple’s commitment to provide a second chance to hardworking individuals.”

Construction Hiring

The issue has prompted many to discuss hiring practices on construction projects.

Felons are sometimes barred from working on construction at sites such as schools and prisons, but union leaders say such restrictions are rare in private construction, according to reports. The legality of such policies was called into question.

The secretive nature of the owner was also a factor in the discussion.

Reports noted that government related projects and military contractors routinely apply similar hiring requirements and strategies.

“The obvious difference, however, is that Apple is not (as far as we know) working on government-funded projects or handling sensitive state data,” Apple Insider reports.

Construction on the new campus is to be complete by 2016.


Tagged categories: Building owners; Commercial contractors; Construction; Hiring; Jobs; North America; Program/Project Management; Unions; Workers

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