Reflections On Apple’s Factory Working Conditions

Today’s post comes from guest author Ryan Benharris, from Deborah G. Kohl Law Offices.

Our colleague Rod Rehm shared a great post about Apple’s inhumane factory working conditions in China the other day. It gave us pause because we use Apple products in our business all the time. Whether it’s an iPhone to keep in touch with the office 24/7 or an iPad to help win our clients’ cases in the courtroom, these tools have become an integral part of our lives and the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the world. We hope that through advocacy companies like Apple will improve their working conditions and increase standards of living across the globe.

We also hope that as Apple moves to provide better working conditions for all of its workers and subcontractors, it can repatriate many of its jobs cost effectively. In the video linked in Rod’s post, Jon Stewart points out that right now Apple saves about 20% on the cost of production by outsourcing to China. We, as fans of Apple’s products, would be willing to split the difference with them and pay 10% more for their excellent products if they’d absorb the other 10% and treat their workers humanely.

Here’s Rod’s original post (reprinted with permission):

When Henry Ford invented the Model T, he revolutionized manufacturing and in the process created tons of high-paying jobs for ordinary people. His wealth was shared. When Steve Jobs and Apple invented the iPhone, they outsourced its manufacturing to Foxconn, a company that runs assembly lines in China. Aside from a few jobs at company headquarters and some sales and service positions at retail stores, the jobs are all overseas. The vast majority of the profits from the sales of Apple and other companies like it are going to the wealthy people who own Apple stock and a few extremely well-paid executives. Jon Stewart details how life without “burdensome” regulations, “frivolous” lawsuits and labor unions means Chinese workers suffer so U.S. companies can build their products cheaper and accumulate more profits. Stewart’s investigative segment makes us all ask whether it is worth these inhumane conditions so we can get the next gadget for a few dollars less, or to pad the pockets of the wealthy a little more.

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