Health and Safety Findings at Quanta, Mac and iPod Manufacturer

FLA Report

Last August the Fair Labor Association (FLA) conducted audits in two of Apple’s final assembly plants in China. These factories are both owned by Quanta–Tech-Com in Shanghai manufactures Mac computers and employs roughly 32,000 people and Tech-Full in Changshu manufactures iPods and employs nearly 5,000 people. The findings from these audits were released today, one day after Apple’s announcement to ban […]

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The Blame Game

Preventable Factory Fire in China Once Again Not Prevented Co-written by Joey Friedman 75 Chinese workers at the Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Production Co.  perished in a factory explosion on Saturday, August 2nd. Zhongrong makes automotive parts for General Motors Co. and other auto makers. Dense with dust, its believed the unfiltered air combusted upon contact with a heat source. Like many unfortunate factory fires, this could have been prevented by installing a simple ventilation system. In an attempt to avoid responsibility, few head employees were willing to speak or take action after the explosion. Factory Chairman Wu Ji-tao was not found within reach for comment. The factory’s online contact, Zhang Ying refused to answer any questions regarding the blast. According to a report by The New York Times, China’s top work-safety agency pointed to local government to take on responsibility for the tragic event. Government officials are currently refusing to comment. Citic Dicastal Wheel Manufacturing Co., wheel-makers that subcontract orders to Zhongrong is also not available for comment. General Motors deflects its relationship with the factory, making clear that is sources its parts through Citic Dicastal, its tier 1 supplier, and has no direct relationship with Zhongrong, this tier 2 supplier. Of the more than 260 people onsite at the time of the explosion on early Saturday morning, 75 have died and nearly 200 are injured. Combustible dust is a widely known manufacturing hazard. As a metal polishing plant, Zhongrong should […]

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Apple: the Walmart of the High-Tech Industry

Co-authored by Joey Friedman Of late, most of Apple’s labor scandals have stemmed from supplier factories in China. Today’s Wall Street Journal, however, points to a labor problem much closer to home. On Monday July 21, 20,000 hourly workers in California filed suit against Apple for workplace violations. The case, originally filed back in 2011 by four Apple employees, now voices the position of 20,000 employees claiming Apple’s violation of wage and hour laws. Reports have been made that these employees were denied lunch breaks, rest breaks, and final paychecks while working for Apple. Other claims broadly illustrate mistreatment within the workplace. Multiple reports reflect that if certain labor policies were discussed among employees they became at risk for being “fired, sued or disciplined.” The claims made by the thousands of California-based staff members exhibits behaviors of a hostile and threatening work environment. It is possible that such a harsh relationship between staff members and management is what has kept these employees fearfully quiet for any length of time. It’s clear that while Apple offers admiral benefits packages for its corporate employees, its hourly retail workers (and the workers on the other end of its supply chain, assembling its prized iGadgets) are not treated as well. Apple is the second most profitable company in the world and recently announced second quarter profits of $7.75 billion dollars, up 12% since the same time last year. The company touts itself as a […]

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Samsung: Don’t Abandon, Make Reforms!

Co-authored by Joey Friedman After undercover investigations and resulting allegations of underage workers in one of Samsung’s supplier factories, Samsung has quickly made public response to this issue. Repeatedly pledging a “zero tolerance policy”, Samsung has currently suspended their involvement with Shinyang Electronic Co. Ltd, in Dongguan, China. Until recently, Shinyang produced phone covers and parts for Samsung. It’s a South Korean-invested facility which hires about 40% temporary workers, all reportedly under the age of 35. Although Samsung has conducted its own audits of this factory (three since 2013, the most recent on June 25, 2014), the company uncovered no cases of child labor. China Labor Watch (CLW), however, found at least five children working on one production line in this facility, and estimate there could be as many as twenty children working on that line and more throughout the facility. Samsung’s failure to notice such gross violations during multiple visits to Shinyang certainly questions the rigor and effectiveness of these audits. In response to the allegations made by CLW, Samsung launched another investigation last week and reported finding evidence of illegal hiring processes. If Samsung’s investigation concludes that illegal hiring practices were indeed used, Samsung is threatening to permanently terminate its involvement with Shinyang. In an effort to completely eradicate child labor within electronic factories, it is reassuring to see such an adamant response from Samsung’s team. However, the repercussions that could result from termination would leave workers worse off. Most imminently, the […]

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Bad Samsung: Stop Using Child Labor

Samsung-Home-Slider

News broke last night that global electronics giant Samsung has once again been found to be using child labor in the production of its mobile phones. China Labor Watch’s (CLW) report, Another Samsung Supplier Exploiting Child Labor, documented child labor and other abuses at Shinyang Electronic Co. Ltd. Shinyang is a South Korean-owned company, mainly producing the covers and other parts for […]

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Well, what phone should I buy then?

GA_siri2

As word spreads about the dangerous chemicals used in electronics manufacturing, we have been getting asked “well, what phone should I buy then?” For smartphones and other electronics, the best way to ensure your next phone does not contribute to worker abuse is to buy a used or refurbished phone.  Before you make the choice to buy though, you may […]

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Putting an end to Human Trafficking in Thailand’s fishing sector

Last Friday, the US State Department released its 2014 Global Trafficking in Persons Report—an annual report that documents human trafficking around the world and each country’s efforts to combat the issue.   In this report, State downgraded Thailand to Tier 3, demonstrating that the Thai government is not compliant with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, particularly with regard to its treatment of migrant workers. This is especially evident in the fishing sector. In fact, there are an estimated 3-4 million migrant workers in Thailand. The majority of them, 80 percent, came from Myanmar and work in the most dangerous, dirty jobs, including seafood harvesting and processing, manufacturing, and domestic work. This decision came after Green America and our allies sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to make this decision so that economic sanctions could be imposed to influence the Thai government’s efforts in preventing human trafficking. You can read the original letter we sent to Secretary Kerry as well as the thank you letter we sent with our allies on Friday applauding this decision. While it’s not good news that Thailand has fallen to Tier 3 status, we hope that this decision will lead to urgent action in Thailand to improve the situation for migrant workers. In the last year, reports from, CNN, BBC, Reuters, The Associated Press and The Guardian have drawn unprecedented attention to the issue and consumer pressure campaigns have also launched to push companies […]

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Lisa Jackson: Take a stand for the workers that make iPhones!

Today Green America and more than 80 allies, including environmental and human rights organizations, socially responsible investment firms, and occupational health professionals, sent a letter to Lisa Jackson, VP of Environmental Affairs at Apple. Jackson is the former administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency. At the EPA, Jackson monitored benzene levels in the water and air to ensure no one was exposed to dangerous levels of this known human carcinogen and championed toxins-reduction in the environment. Our letter calls on Jackson to use her expertise and influence within Apple to make worker health and safety a priority in her second year at Apple. You can read the full text of our letter and view all signers here>>  To send your own message to Apple executives, use our new mock “app”: Want to end smartphone sweatshops? Here’s the App for that!

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The Problem with Benzene and Apple’s Off-Shore Solution

Benzene Graph

Chinese electronics workers are likely exposed to three times as much Benzene as US workers Since launching our Bad Apple: End Smartphone Sweatshops campaign we’ve received a number of questions about benzene, one of the chemicals known to be causing worker illness, including leukemia, in electronics factories. Benzene is both dangerous and ubiquitous.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies benzene as […]

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