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.