There’s a story going around this morning that Apple, for petty reasons of their own, is not allowing convicted felons to work on its new headquarters. The SF Chronicle broke the news on Saturday, but I don’t think they got all of their facts straight:
Apple is known for being secretive and picky about who works on its popular devices, but now, union officials say, that thinking also applies to the construction workers pouring the concrete for the tech giant’s new offices.
Several construction workers who were hired to build the exterior of Apple’s new campus in Cupertino were ordered to leave the site in January due to prior felony convictions, several union officials and workers told The Chronicle. The ban is unusual for construction work, a field in which employers typically do not perform criminal background checks.
For work on the Apple site, anyone with a felony conviction or facing felony charges “does not meet owner standards,” according to documents from construction companies acquired by The Chronicle.
This being an Apple story (and thus prima facie clickbait), I immediately doubted the original report and sought confirmation.
I’m glad I double checked, because my construction industry contact said that this was the norm.
My source is a senior construction project manager with 30 years experience who has worked on both corporate and government projects (many of which cost more than Apple’s new HQ). They told me over the phone that this was not unusual and should be expected that a construction project with security and trade secret issues like Apple’s HQ would ban convicted felons. In fact, my source had never worked on a project which did not require a background check.
Some of those construction projects did employ convicted felons, yes, but it was uncommon and required jumping through hoops. The felons were not allowed to be on the construction site unsupervised, and were often blocked from working in certain areas entirely.
Edit: I was called out on Twitter for not covering the detail concerning those charged but not convicted of felonies. My source told me that some construction sites also banned anyone who was being prosecuted for a felony.
My source asked to remain anonymous, but they provided enough anecdotal detail to convince me that the original story in the Chronicle is wrong.
The article bashes Apple for following an SOP in the construction industry. If you want to bash the industry for this practice, be my guest. But to single out Apple for following a common practice, like Pando Daily and other blogs have done, is simply wrong.
image by NikBoiv