questionsdoes apple's violations make you think twice…


I don't buy Apple products but I feel like this story could be about any electronics producer and I do buy electronics. I'm not an apple fan but I feel like they get targeted because they're the biggest target.


What @gideonfrost said.

This is from Foxconn's wikipedia page.
"Foxconn is primarily an original design manufacturer and its clients include American, European and Japanese companies. Notable products which the company manufactures include the iPad,[5] iPhone,[6] Kindle, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360. It is the largest exporter in Greater China and the largest private-sector employer in China"

Check out the Major Customers section.


Do you know the working conditions of the guy who flipped your burger?
The guy that mows your lawn or who picks your produce? The maid who cleaned your hotel room? The working conditions of the person who assembled your laptop/android smartphone/gps AT THE SAME FOXCONN FACILITY that builds apple's products? NO?

Anything made in China or a 3rd world country was probably worked on by someone making less money than they should, working under worse conditions than they should.

I'm still not sure what "violations" you're talking about...


Like @kamikazeken among others above me said, it's not just Apple...they are in the spotlight because of their size. My nephew worked at a well-known burger franchise during high school. He said that they clocked out at 11:00 P.M.(locally) then had to stay and clean the grills afterwards. IMHO that sounds unfair, but it was a least he was working.


I don't like articles that just state the amount of money they make. For example, in these factories the make a monthly salary of $358 in U.S. dollars -- to $455 in U.S. dollars.

What they fail to say is what the cost of living is over there. What is the equivalent of rent, electric, water, and food over there? I have a feeling it costs a bunch more to live in the U.S. so we are shocked to see these low wages but we aren't taking into consideration the cost to live there.


(Part 1)

As this reply has grown quite long, I'll go ahead and answer right here up top. I've bought Apple products before, but based on their corporate behavior, I don't think I ever will again.

A lot of iFans heard that Mike Daisey lied and breathed a sigh of relief. "Whew, I don't have to feel guilty after all. That guy was just lying!," they seemed to think.

But that's not the whole story.

Yes, he misrepresented his trip and even lied about some things. For him to take his monologue onto a show where he was told it had to stand up to the rigors of journalism was stupid and wrong.

And the worst part is, now it's even harder to make anyone pay attention to poor working conditions.

If you're at all interested in this, you should listen to the This American Life (TAL) episode where they retract their Mike Daisey piece. If you're in a hurry, at least listen to "Act Three," which starts at 42:40.


(Part 2)

"You could build the iPhone in the United States for [between $10-$65 extra per phone], if you're paying American wages."
-Charles Duhigg, New York Times reporter who co-wrote the newspaper's front-page investigative series about this subject, as interviewed on TAL.

Apple makes hundreds of dollars profit on each unit.

Apple is the richest company in the world. They aren't some scrappy upstart fighting to survive. They're not an outsider daring to stand up to Microsoft. They're the "evil giant," if there is one.

They're certainly the standard-setters. (and that is not hyperbolic at all.) It is absolutely within Apple's power to ensure fair working conditions, and still make an enormous profit. Apple issues their own audit reports of working conditions in their suppliers' factories. But those reports show the same violations year after year.


(Part 3)

Again quoting Duhigg: *"in 2005, Apple created what was called the Supplier Code of Conduct. [It] said, these are the standards that we expect anyone who's making an Apple product to abide by. One of those- ... the one that's probably most violated- is ... that no one should work more than 60 hours per week that's working inside a factory that's making an Apple product.

We know from Apple's own audits and the reports that they have published that at least 50% of all audited factories every year since 2007 have violated at least that provision. More than half of the workers whose records are examined are working more than 60 hours per week....

That being said, I think that China is ... different and that the expectations... as a developing nation ... of workers are ... different. I don't think holding them to American standards is precisely the right way to look at the situation.*

Lots of OT, not so bad.


(Part 4)

But then there are the life-threatening hazards.

Again, Duhigg: *"...last year, within a seven-month period, there were two explosions inside factories where iPads were being produced that killed four people and injured 77 others. Both of those explosions were caused by dust ... created [by] polishing the aluminum that makes up the case of an iPad. Prior to those explosions, there was a report released by ... SACOM [an advocacy group].... warning about safety conditions within at least one of the plants and saying, there's dust here. And dust is a known safety hazard ... in all kinds of plants.... You have to remove it, or else it can explode....

What critics of Apple have said is, if Apple had taken this first explosion seriously ... they could ... [require] ... every plant [with] aluminum polishing... to improve conditions. And they could have prevented or averted the second explosion."*


(Part 5)

Quoting Ira Glass (for the first time - surprising since he's the host) from TAL: *"Yeah, you write in your article-- you point out that the second explosion happened seven months after the first one. And you quote a man named Nicholas Ashford, who's a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, which advises the US Department of Labor. He said, 'It's gross negligence, after an explosion occurs, not to realize that every factory should be inspected.'

He said, 'If it were terribly difficult to deal with aluminum dust, I would understand. But do you know how easy dust is to control? It's called ventilation. We solved this problem over a century ago.' ""*


(Part 6)

So if labor cost isn't the reason for Chinese production, what is?

Duhigg: *"labor is such an enormously small part of any electronic device, right? Compared to the cost of buying chips, or making sure that you have a plant that can turn out thousands of these things a day, or being able to get strengthened glass cut exactly right within two days of this thing being due-- that's what's important. Labor is almost insignificant.

What is really important are supply chains and flexibility of factories. You want to be able to be located right next to the plant that makes the screws, so when you need a small change ... you can go next door and say, "Give it to me in six hours." And they can say, "Here you go."

...If that factory was in another state or on another continent, it would take two weeks.... That's what you can do in Asia that you can't do in the United States."*


(Part 7)

Another reason to build in China?

Ira discusses a situation described in Duhigg's NYT piece where 8700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee 200,000 assembly line workers. In the US it would take 9 months to hire 8,700 industrial engineers. In China, they filled the jobs in 15 days.

My take away is that the unsafe working conditions are not a requirement for our gadgets. Apple certainly isn't the only company that benefits from these, but they're in the best position to change the situation.

Quoting a PC Mag article: "Apple controlled less than 10 percent of the global handset market last year but by some accounts hauled in 50 percent or more of the industry's available operating profits."


Since it's been several hours since the most recent post (A fact I noticed after spending quite a bit of time on this), I'm just calling those who have already participated in hopes that someone reads this novella.

@cengland0, @jsimsace, @kamikazeken, @klozitshoper, @rprebel, @gideonfrost, @mkentosh


@anotherhiggins: It is not "absolutely within Apple's power to ensure fair working conditions". Foxconn does not report to Apple. They aren't bound by anything Apple "demands" of them. Two things will happen as a result of all this attention:

1. Conditions in Chinese factories will continue to be among the worst on Earth.
2. Lines outside Apple stores on product launch days will continue to be among the longest on Earth.

People. Don't. Care. We say we care, but we want our new toys more than we want safe Chinese factories. The only way out of this that I can see is for Apple to bring production to the US, and that's not a simple thing to do. It's not just getting the parts here. It's infrastructure, mountains of regulation, and FSM only knows what else. I doubt that "extra $10-$65" per phone includes all that. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying it's not as easy as you make it out to be.


@rprebel: It is within their power because companies will jump through hoops to get an Apple contract. I agree MOST people just don't care. I do. I'm voting with my wallet, and I won't vote for Apple. If enough people ever do start caring, maybe we'll see some changes.

Going back to the Duhigg: *"Everyone knows that if you land Apple as a client, it helps your reputation enormously. So essentially every supplier out there wants to work with Apple....

Apple has this enormous negotiating power... They... come in and basically say, 'Show us your entire cost structure, every single part of what you pay and piece of your internal economics. And we are going to give you a razor-thin profit margin that you're allowed to keep.'

....Once Apple comes in and says, '...razor-thin profit margin,' that's when companies start cutting corners. Or they can't afford to hire more people in order to work on the line, so that you don't have to work these long stretches."*