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Apple flagship store in San Francisco fills with protestors

Demonstrators occupy the tech giant's downtown retail shop to speak out against alleged underpaying of contract employees.

Apple's flagship retail store in downtown San Francisco the morning the iPad 2 launched in 2011. James Martin/CNET

Apple's San Francisco flagship store temporarily became a scene of confusion and arrests on Thursday because of a sit-in held inside. A gathering of roughly 50 protestors were demonstrating against Apple for allegedly underpaying contract employees that work at its retail stores.

The protestors reportedly belong to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and said Apple routinely underpays contractors, such as security guards. The union also alleged that Apple hires contractors for part-time jobs to prevent paying employee benefits.

The protest was said to have lasted one hour. According to freelance journalist Julia Carrie Wong, who live-tweeted the protest, San Francisco police showed up to the store and declared unlawful assembly. Reportedly, 12 people were arrested.

Apple has come under criticism by its retail employees in the past. Last year, a lawsuit was filed regarding retail store employees having to undergo two mandatory bag searches per day. These employees claim that after they clocked out, they had to stand in line for up to 30 minutes while store managers ensured they weren't smuggling home stolen goods -- thus depriving them of hours of unpaid wages.

Another suit against Apple, that gained class action status in July, involves 20,000 disgruntled workers who claim they've been denied lunch breaks, rest breaks, and final paychecks.

When contacted by CNET, Apple declined to comment.