Blog 3 / Uncategorized

“That would require someone to care…”

Although I was made aware of the way Foxconn slyly avoids following labor laws in another class last spring, I am very glad I was required to listen to this podcast. I particularly enjoyed Mike Daisey’s approach to conveying his message to listeners, as his tone of voice and word choice kept my attention throughout the entire podcast and created a perfect picture of his journey through Shenzhen. Many of his points stood out to me, but I was particularly interested in the relationship between Apple and the Foxconn workers. As Daisy described how the technology corporations made deals with Chinese factories, I couldn’t help but think about tradeoffs. The companies promised a modern China, and China basically lifted all labor laws to ensure low labor costs so that firms would continue to choose to produce in China. From an economic standpoint, of course the companies would want to choose the lowest supply costs to increase profit margin. The tradeoff, obviously, is human rights and working conditions. What I find even more fascinating, is how Apple can keep such atrocities so quiet. I try to stay aware of news about certain companies having terrible working conditions and stay away from their products, but the issues in Foxconn are not widely spoken about.

Another topic that really grabbed my attention was the labor unions and issues concerning making real changes with Foxconn. The blacklisting of workers creates a whole other set of problems for workers that eventually leads to suicide, because it is clear there is really no way out of working for companies like Foxconn.

Amidst all of my thoughts while listening to Daisy, I kept glancing at my iPhone, Macbook, and iPad that casually lay on my desk. Some 13 year old assembled and cleaned these, and I of course felt guilty for providing profits for Apple. I couldn’t help but wonder about my tradeoffs if I were to decide to give up using Apple products because now I cannot deny my knowledge about the working conditions of the people who make these products.

4 thoughts on ““That would require someone to care…”

  1. The idea of the blacklist was incredulous to me. It is amazing and sad that workers in factories such as Foxconn are so dispensable. The factory can terminate as many people as they want because they always have a line of people waiting to accept any job, even though the working conditions in the factory are so bad. The people are so desperate that they are willing to do anything to make some money to live on.
    I also experienced conflict after I listened to this article when I went to use my electronic devices. I realized that it would take a lot more than just me boycotting Apple for any difference to be made in the lives of the Foxconn workers. Apple is such a powerful company because of the intelligence and the money that they have. Apple is not the only company whose products are made in the Foxconn factory, so any boycott would have to expand beyond just Apple.

  2. It amazes me as well that Apple is able to keep these issues so private. You hear about small issues here and there in the news, but nothing so extreme that would make people stop buying their products. Even if the general public became fully aware of the working conditions, do you even think they would stop buying Apple products? Apple products have been integrated into our daily lives, it is hard to imagine a life without them now. Therefore, it would be interesting to see what it would take for people to stop buying such products.

  3. The idea of modernizing China to the fullest has without a doubt caused severe negative consequences. Those who are corporate leaders in China, plus some other more fortunate Chinese citizens, live amongst the modernized and sophisticated side of Shenzhen while the majority have 80 hour work weeks and horrible conditions with extremely low pay. If the Chinese government truly wanted a Modern China why would they deteriorate the lives of its people just to secure mass production? I believe that a truly modern society entails having sophisticated lifestyles that can extend to the greatest percentage of the population possible. If not, its no better than old fashioned inefficiency.

  4. Should we have to choose between great products and clean consciences? Even if it is made by a 16 year old who is paid slightly better, the lack of workplace democracy is still troubling.

    But what if the workers claim “they want” those jobs? Is it presumptuous of us to think they should want more?

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