|Apple is under intense scrutiny right now. But rather than genuinely addressing the problems in its supply chain, we believe the company is trying to stop the outcry by brushing its problems under the rug.We’re demanding that Apple do what it takes to ensure the people who manufacture its products are treated ethically.And we’re joining a global movement to deliver hundreds of thousands of petitions from activists worldwide at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting this Thursday.Sign our petition: Tell Apple to transform its industry by being ethical and innovative.
Not that long ago, I switched from a BlackBerry to an iPhone. It’s been a great switch. The iPhone is intuitive and powerful—it’s an incredible piece of machinery. If you don’t use an Apple product yourself, you probably have friends or family who do.
When it comes to technology, Apple has revolutionized its industry and set a standard other companies aspire to meet. The company has been richly rewarded for its success. It is now the biggest publicly traded company in the world, worth a whopping $465 billion. The company made $17.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone—just shy of a 40 percent profit margin.(1,2)
But Apple’s record-breaking success comes at a back-breaking price. According to news reports, workers who assemble iPhones, iPads and iPods at Foxconn, Apple’s largest supplier in China, have needlessly suffered lifelong injuries and even died from avoidable tragedies, including suicides, explosions and exhaustion from 30- to 60-hour shifts. And there are stories of workers suffering such awful repetitive motion injuries that they permanently lose the use of their hands.(3)
Sign our petition to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. Tell him to ensure that people integral to Apple’s success—workers who manufacture Apple’s electronics—are treated fairly.
Apple is under intense scrutiny right now. But rather than deal with that by genuinely addressing the problems in its supply chain, we believe the company is trying to stop the outcry by brushing its problems under the rug.
Recently, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to arrange for inspections of its factories. We believe these inspections will not expose—or begin to solve—Apple’s problems. The FLA is funded and controlled by the multinational corporations it oversees, which means it is not at all independent. As Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) recently said, independence “means an organization is not funded and governed by the companies it is charged with investigating.”(4)
A couple days ago, Foxconn also announced a recent raise for some of its workers. But we believe that, too, is a PR smokescreen. According to Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, “The new basic wage…only applies to the workers in Shenzhen. In inland provinces, where two-thirds of production workers are based, basic salary remains meager. Given that the inflation in China is high, Foxconn is just following the trend of wage increase in the electronics industry in China.”
We call on Apple to immediately allow genuine unions, with truly independent factory inspections and worker trainings. Trying to brush this under the rug—or hide behind a front group like the FLA—only will make Apple’s PR problems worse.
Tell Apple’s CEO Tim Cook: Get to work to ensure people who manufacture Apple electronics are treated ethically.
One anonymous Apple executive told The New York Times there’s a trade-off between working conditions and innovation: “You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories,” or you can “make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards.”(5)
We disagree with the idea that Apple can’t be both ethical and innovative. Apple needs to ensure the quality of its working conditions matches the quality of its products.
As one anonymous Apple executive told The New York Times, “[s]uppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”(6)
Please sign our petition to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, urging him to treat all of the workers who make Apple’s electronics fairly—no matter where they live.
Thank you for standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in China.
Richard L. Trumka
P.S. What leaders do matters. And Apple is now the leader in its industry. That’s why the AFL-CIO will be watching Apple closely to make sure the company does right by the workers who make its products—no matter where they live.
Apple has the resources it needs to do this right. Manufacturing costs are only a very small portion of Apple’s expenses: Workers are paid just $8 to manufacture a $499 iPad, for example, while Apple pockets $150 of the retail price. And the company is sitting on nearly $100 billion in cash.(7,1)
Sign our petition to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, telling him to make Apple’s products ethically.