Apple To Bring Jobs Back To The U.S. -- And Treat Workers Better

Apple jobs coming back to the U.S., CEO Tim Cook says

By Peter Svensson


NEW YORK -- "Those jobs aren't coming back." That's what Steve Jobs reportedly told President Obama when asked at a dinner in early 2011 whether Apple would consider moving some of its manufacturing from China to the United States. Jobs' successor, CEO Tim Cook, might have another response for Obama: Yes, we can.

Though the metal edges of its PCs and mobile devices are as sharp and severe as ever, Apple is emerging under Cook's leadership as a kinder corporate citizen. Cook's announcement this week that the company is moving the production of one of its Mac computer lines to the U.S. is just the latest step in a softening of the company's image following the October 2011 death of CEO and co-founder Jobs.

"Cook is a gentler being in terms of how he projects himself," says Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi. That's partly of necessity, she says -- people wouldn't tolerate Jobs' arrogance in a new CEO -- but it's also a reflection of Cook's personality.

Cook didn't say which computers would be made in the U.S., or where the company might locate facilities. But bringing assembly-line jobs back to the U.S. lights a symbolic beacon of hope for working-class Americans who worry that the global economy has no use for them.

More: A Year After Steve Jobs' Death: 8 Career Lessons

Cook's reforms have been both internal and outward-facing. Earlier this year, he visited the Chinese factories where Apple products are assembled, amid an Apple-financed audit of working conditions. Shortly after, Foxconn promised to limit working hours and raise wages.

U.S. workers are getting a better deal too. The Wall Street Journal reported in early November that the company will let some employees take up to two weeks of paid leave to work on pet projects that might benefit the company. The program is similar to a famous perk available to Google employees, who get to devote 20 percent of their time to entrepreneurial "hobbies."

In addition, the company now matches employee donations up to $10,000 a year. Tim Cook himself made $100 million in charitable donations early in the year, another contrast to Jobs, who had little interest in philanthropy.

Under Cook, Apple has also become more investor-friendly. Jobs, perhaps scarred by Apple's lean years in the 1990s, was opposed to Apple parting with its cash reserves. That lead to the company accumulating a rainy-day fund of nearly $100 billion in cash by the end of his tenure -- a hoard that investors would have liked for themselves.

This year, Apple has begun sharing its wealth with investors for the first time in two decades, by paying dividends of nearly $10 billion a year.

More: Want To Get A Job At Apple? Here's How

Cook's diplomacy has extended into enemy territory. Jobs was furious that phones running Google Inc.'s Android software mimicked Apple's iPhone so closely and vowed to wage "thermonuclear war" against the company through patent infringement lawsuits. The worldwide onslaught of litigation is still ongoing, but in early November, Apple agreed to a ceasefire on one front: It settled all its patent suits against Google partner HTC Corp., a struggling Taiwanese maker of smartphones.

The terms were not disclosed, but company watchers believe HTC will be paying Apple royalties on the phones it makes, and some saw it as a sign that Apple was taking a more rational stance and starting to put Jobs' take-no-prisoners fury behind it.

Carl Howe, an analyst with Yankee Group, says the image of a "softer" Apple that's emerged this year doesn't mean Cook is a softie.

"Make no mistake: He's not necessarily a kind, gentle guy if he needs to get something done. He's a very hard-nosed, demanding boss," Howe says. "And he's very much of the Steve Jobs model, where if you're the janitor you get to make excuses. If you're the vice president, you don't."

Cook, in fact, engineered a major shakeup in Apple's top ranks this fall. Scott Forstall, the long-serving head of iPhone software development, stepped down and his responsibilities were divided among other executives. Company watchers attributed his departure to difficulties collaborating with other departments and to the scathing reviews that greeted Apple's Maps application, which replaced Google Maps.

Another senior vice president left at the same time: John Browett, who headed Apple's stores. Browett had tried to make his mark by cutting employee hours, leaving fewer people to help customers. Browett was overridden. He lasted just six months on the job.

"Being gentle and being a pushover are two different things," says Milanesi.

Power Player: Apple's Tim Cook




Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now



More From AOL Jobs



Looking for a job? Click here to get started.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

19 Comments

Filter by:
cloieone

Apple used to be a good company to work for many years ago. Now it is rotten to the core.

January 26 2013 at 7:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mrcorrie63

Sounds like a step in the right direction!
Companies only manufacture abroad, because they are so GREEDY!
They are making great profits here in the US, but, overseas they pay much less to workers and therefore they can line their GREEDY pockets with more money! AMERICAN GREED!!!

January 25 2013 at 1:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
b_lolo

I have a real prediction....
1. I will go to bed tonight after a shower
2. Wake in the morning for coffee
3. Go to work come home and do this mon-fri
Until the weekend.
4. More coffee
Tad aaa ! It's a miracle

December 10 2012 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
yuccapucka

Good for you Apple! Make 'em in the USA, and I'll buy 'em. It's about time that you locate your Means of Production here. I'm sure that your competitive fully automated factories will need thousands of middle class maintenance engineers, and technicians. We need to make more products in more competitive automated factories, using more middle class skilled American workers. If workers make middle class, then they buy middle class, a good economic circle of prosperity.

December 10 2012 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jun and Terry

ook rest of corporate america are you listening?this what we want

December 10 2012 at 12:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Kenny

Only suckers fall for this Apple BS. Anyone with half a brain knows this is a PR stunt.

December 08 2012 at 1:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brenda

WalMart should bring jobs back to America and not use China...Other companies should bring jobs back to America too...

December 07 2012 at 9:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
carnut122

An Apple made in the USA? And here I thought I'd NEVER consider buying an Apple?

December 07 2012 at 8:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to carnut122's comment
Jun and Terry

yes i may consider that too,but i will give it time and see how it pans out

December 10 2012 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gbrond23

That's great, now we're offically a third world country! That's where you find cheap labor...

December 07 2012 at 4:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sthrnfilly

WAR EAGLE! Tim!

December 07 2012 at 3:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

Week of Nov 9 - Nov 16
View All

Featured Writers

Meet the team

Picks From the Web