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Apple may pride itself on creating an employee-friendly work environment, but a Bloomberg investigation published Monday tells a different story about the company’s Hammerwood “black site” facility — one that highlights the complications that come with the tech industry’s reliance on freelancers and contract workers.

While the company’s shiny, futuristic Cupertino complex provides full-time Apple employees with modern architecture, a café and a 100,000-square-foot fitness center, several anonymous contractors working at the nearby Hammerwood site said that their workplace is defined by a “bland” office space, low wages, understocked vending machines, long bathroom lines, and “dehumanizing” micromanagers. Contractors make up a large swath of Apple’s workforce, though companies are not required to disclose any official count.

Beyond these inconveniences, one former contractor who worked at Hammerwood said that “there was a culture of fear” at the facility, amplified by sudden firings and stripped-down benefits — such as the slashing of paid sick leave from 48 to 24 hours.

Though they work on products like Apple Maps, these contractors are employed and managed not by Apple, but third party companies, like Apex Systems. Apple says that it requires these companies to treat the contractors with “dignity and respect” and after auditing Hammerwood, found that the facility’s work environment “was consistent with other Apple locations.” Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O’Donnell

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