Apple is so secretive that its contractors reportedly work at 'black sites,' named for confidential CIA bases

tim cook apple ceoApple CEO Tim Cook looks on during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on the Apple Park campus on September 12, 2017 in Cupertino, California. Apple held their first special event at the new Apple Park campus where they announced the new iPhone 8, iPhone X and the Apple Watch Series 3.Justin Sullivan/Getty

  • An office building where Apple pays temporary workers to work on its mapping service is called a "black site" internally, according to a new Bloomberg report.
  • Contractors working at the office faced the constant threat of termination, and did not have access to Apple perks like gym or cafeteria access, according to Bloomberg.
  • The contractors officially worked for Apex Systems, not Apple.

There's growing concern over Silicon Valley's two-tiered workforce. While some tech employees get to enjoy whimsical campuses, free or cheap gourmet lunches, and daily shuttles taking them to work, others - contractors who don't work for a tech company but instead work for a staffing company - get far fewer perks.

There's been a lot of attention lately given to Google's contractors, but a new report from Bloomberg sheds some light on Apple's armies of workers who get a different color badge and who aren't allowed to use Apple's gyms.

Bloomberg focuses on one office in Sunnyvale, near Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California, operated by Apex Systems. Inside of Apple, this office is reportedly called a "black site" - a military term referring to a base where secret operations take place. The locations where the CIA tortured enemy combatants during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were called "black sites."

In the Apple black site, contractors making about $25 per hour clean maps and other data, a painstaking, labor-intensive task.

Bloomberg describes some challenging working conditions at the apple facility, including not enough bathrooms, rules about what you can put on your LinkedIn profile and resume, job insecurity, and a sudden decision last fall by management to slash sick days by half. According to Bloomberg, contractors were even asked to walk down the street before calling for a ride home.

Over a dozen Apple contractors left the office in a protest after management slashed paid sick time from 48 hours per year to 24, according to Bloomberg.

(Apple didn't respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, but told Bloomberg: "Like we do with other suppliers, we will work with Apex to review their management systems, including recruiting and termination protocols, to ensure the terms and conditions of employment are transparent and clearly communicated to workers in advance.")

Apple is known in Silicon Valley for its $5 billion headquarters, Apple Park, which is a stunning circular building on a campus dotted with fruit trees. It's also got a massive gym and an amazing cafeteria. But Business Insider has previously reported that not all of Apple's employees get the same access to perks, even if they're not contractors.

"Obviously very first world problems, but having such disparities in quality of workplace environment across the company creates an awkward hierarchy and lack of a unified company culture," an Apple employee told Business Insider in 2017. "Facebook, Google, Airbnb (magnitude smaller, I know) crush Apple on this front."

During the Trump administration, Apple has touted its ability to create jobs, and says that it creates 450,000 jobs through its U.S.-based suppliers.

You can read the entire story with lots of additional details over at Bloomberg.

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