The New York Times has continued its expose of Apple's labor chain. Following its January report on horrific, and sometimes deadly, conditions at its Chinese factories, the paper last week turned its attention to a less obviously exploited workforce: the sales clerks and "geniuses" toiling in America's Apple stores.
The world's most valuable company, with a market valuation higher than than the GDP of Poland, which takes in more money per store square foot than any other retailer in the U.S., seems to be stiffing its staff, reports the Times. Peddlers of iPhones and iPads can sell as much as $3 million in merchandise annually. But these hourly workers earn an average of just $11.75 an hour, or less than $25,000 a year. With no commission.
But a gig at an Apple store remains one of the most sought after retail jobs. Fortune ranked Apple Inc. the world's most admired company last year, and the sellers of its products often have a sense of purpose beyond just moving merch. The benefits are apparently great, and the hourly salary is way above the minimum wage of $7.25.
So if many Apple employees feel unsatisfied and underpaid, how do other retail employees in this country fare? AOL Jobs looked up employee ratings of the 100 biggest retailers on Glassdoor.com, and these are the seven with the most brutal reviews.
Worst Retail Chains To Work For
Worst Retail Jobs In America
Average hourly wage for sales associates: $10.41
CEO William Dillard II's total compensation last year: $4.01 million
Working sales at Dillard's can be a dramatic affair, complain several employees on Glassdoor.com. The clerks can be territorial, as they compete for sales numbers. There's little training, many say, and high turnover. Employees labor under the constant threat of termination, and with dizzyingly impossible-to-meet sales goals. The result: dismal morale.
Average hourly wage for sales associates: $7.51
CEO David Perdue Jr's total compensation last year: $1.94 million
The benefits and pay are low and there's a ton of work, especially because many of the stores run with a skeleton staff, employees gripe on Glassdoor.com. "They are not very understanding about family emergencies, your health, and love loading you with way more than you can handle," says one manager, even though Dollar General saw its profits last quarter soar 36 percent from the same time last year. The discount chain gets an average employee rating of 2.4 out of 5.
Average hourly wage for sales associates: $8.31
CEO Do Won Chang and his wife and CMO Jin Sook don't have publicly available salaries, because Forever 21 is a private company, but Forbes estimates their net worth at $3.6 billion.
Do Won Chang is no stranger to grueling work, having held three jobs at once -- as a janitor, gas station attendant and coffee shop barista -- when he first immigrated to America in 1981. But now as the co-founder, along with his wife, of retailer Forever 21, Chang doesn't have to mop a floor again. He's worth almost $4 billion.
But employees at his cheap chic chain aren't saved from the menial grind. While Forever 21 wasn't on the 100 biggest retail list, its lowly employee rating of 2.3 earns it an honorary spot. On Glassdoor.com, sales associates bemoan the long hours, which sometimes keep them in the store to the early hours of the morning. In January, a handful of Forever 21 employees filed a class action lawsuit against the chain, alleging that the company routinely failed to pay for time worked, and forced employees to labor through breaks and stay after they clocked out -- so that supervisors could check their bags for stolen goods.
Average hourly wage for sales associates: $7.92
CEO James Gooch's total compensation last year: $5.6 million
You have to work hard at RadioShack, say employees on Glassdoor.com, who complain about intense pressure from above to make sales goals, while managers lament about the time spent away from home with their 50- to 60-hour-a-week schedules. They give the company an average of 2.4 out of 5.
"Minimum wage unless you annoy people into buying a wireless phone," said a sales associate. And because of the high sales targets, "managers will always be on your back about absolutely everything," said one sales rep in Arlington, Texas. "Almost to the point where your whole life revolves around RadioShack and would seem as if you have lost your personal life."
Average hourly wage for sales associates: $7.58
CEO Michael Balmuth's total compensation last year: $12.5 million
The company doesn't have enough managers, so sales associates complain they don't get properly trained. And while employees have very nice things to say about each other, many of them agree that Ross Stores somehow manages to attract the rudest, most demoralizing customers. Then there's also the part about low pay, few raises, being understaffed and overworked. Employees on Glassdoor.com give the department chain a 2.4 out of 5.
Average hourly wage for grocery clerks: $15.45
Average hourly wage for baggers: $8.68
CEO Bob Piccinini's salary isn't available, because Super Mart is a private company. But as the majority shareholder of a chain with an annual revenue of around $5 billion, you can bet it's more than a bagger.
Employees are dissatisfied with Save Mart, according to Glassdoor.com, giving the 60-year-old supermarket chain an average rating of 2.4 out of 5. Many complain about a lack of promotion opportunities, and general disrespect from upper management.