An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a Bloomberg report: Apple's new campus in Cupertino, California, is a symbol of how the company views itself as an employer: simultaneously inspiring its workers with its magnificent scale while coddling them with its four-story cafe and 100,000-square-foot fitness center. But one group of Apple contractors finds another building, six miles away on Hammerwood Avenue in Sunnyvale, to be a more apt symbol. This building is as bland as the main Apple campus is striking. From the outside, there appears to be a reception area, but it's unstaffed, which makes sense given that people working in this satellite office -- mostly employees of Apple contractors working on Apple Maps -- use the back door. Workers say managers instructed them to walk several blocks away before calling for a ride home. Several people who worked here say it's widely referred to within Apple as a "black site," as in a covert ops facility. Inside the building, say former workers, they came to expect the vending machines to be understocked, and to have to wait in line to use the men's bathrooms. Architectural surprise and delight wasn't a priority here; after all, the contract workers at Hammerwood almost all leave after their assignments of 12 to 15 months are up. It's not uncommon for workers not to make it that long. According to 14 current and former contractors employed by Apex Systems, a firm that staffs the building as well as other Apple mapping offices, they operated under the constant threat of termination. "It was made pretty plain to us that we were at-will employees and they would fire us at any time," says one former Hammerwood contractor, who, like most of the workers interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity because he signed a nondisclosure agreement with Apex. "There was a culture of fear among the contractors which I got infected by and probably spread." Apex manages the workers it hires -- not Apple. "Following an inquiry from Bloomberg News, the company says, it conducted a surprise audit of the Hammerwood facility and found a work environment consistent with other Apple locations," reports 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," an Apple spokesperson says in a statement.
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