GREEN YOUR SCHOOL: NYU’s Student & Labor Action Movement

A USAS "speak-out" demonstration marked the six-month anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse.

As students start getting ready to go back to school, some of them are also getting ready to embark upon a new year of greening their campuses. Green America editorial fellow Sari Amiel discovered five inspiring examples of how students are making their campuses more socially just and environmentally sustainable. Every Monday and Wednesday from August 14th through August 27th, we’ll post one […]

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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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VICTORY: Apple to Remove Two Potent Toxins from Supplier Factories

Green America's campaigns director Elizabeth O'Connell gears up for our April 25th protest at Apple's flagship store in New York City

This spring, Green America’s End Smartphone Sweatshops campaign, in partnership with China Labor Watch (CLW), called on Apple to remove toxic chemicals including benzene and n-hexane from its supplier factories in China. Only five months into the campaign, Apple announced in August that it would “explicitly prohibit the use of benzene and n-hexane” at 22 of its final-assembly supplier factories. […]

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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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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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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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Despite fancy CSR, labor problems persist in Apple’s supplier factories

Despite Apple’s supplier code of conduct and its well-polished corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports, the most recent of which was released in February 2014, labor abuses persist in the factories where Apple products are made. In a report released today by the Economic Policy Institute, Apple’s own data, as well as independent investigations, depict working conditions that still routinely and systematically fail to meet Apple’s own standards, and can be fairly characterized as deplorable. In Assessing the Reforms Portrayed by Apple’s Supplier Responsibility Report, Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, and Isaac Shapiro, EPI research associate, provide a detailed analysis of the latest annual report by Apple summarizing its audits of, and developments in, its supply chain. Persistent violations include working hours that are greater than legal limits and a significant number of supplier factories that are not in compliance with juvenile worker protection, occupational injury protection, and environmental health and safety standards. The new report indicates there has been little progress in these areas since 2009. “Two years after promising fundamental changes for workers in its supply chain, what Apple has delivered is more business-as-usual than sweeping reform,” said Shapiro. “Sadly, this means labor rights abuses in Apple’s supply chain are ongoing and commonplace.” “While Apple has made progress in some areas, the claims made by Apple in its report are often misleadingly rosy, presumably designed to distract from the serious labor rights violations that even its […]

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