Apple Inc. has triumphed with a decidedly left wing political agenda. CEO Tim Cook’s 2012 election support got him a seat next to Michelle Obama for President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address. After Apple dethroned Coca Cola to become the most valuable brand in the history, Cook trumpeted, “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” But away from the glitter of liberal elites, Apple is involved in another scandal about the abusive labor practices of Apple’s out-source labor contractors that to build the iconic iPhones, Macs and iPads.
President Obama has given several shout-outs to Apple as the epitome of American innovation, according to Forbes Magazine. This adoration of Apple is despite the unspoken fact that Apple become so profitable by outsourcing production to Chinese manufacturing conglomerate Foxconn Technology Group and concentrating recognition of profits under a sweetheart 2% corporate tax rate with Ireland.
Apple has been a serial offender of outsourcing production to companies that treat workers like slaves. In a 2012 audit by Fair Labor Association, its vendor Foxconn Technology Group was found to have engaged in over 50 “serious and pressing” violations of Chinese labor laws after a large number of suicides by workers. The audit documented that over 1.2 million of Foxconn’s employees were routinely cheated out of overtime pay and the contractor regularly violated China’s health and safety laws.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was forced to respond in an email to employees that Apple has never turned “a blind eye” to the problems in its supply chain and any suggestion it does not care about the plight of workers is “patently false.” Foxconn as the biggest maker of Apple devices, pledged a cut working hours and to give employees more oversight.
To deflect horrifically bad publicity, Cook promised to build a $100 million factory in Mesa, Arizona to manufacture Sapphire crystal glass as a replacement for Corning’s Gorilla Glass in its next-generation iPhone 6. Apple touted its move as leading to a renaissance that would re-shore tens of thousands of American manufacturing jobs.
But in August of this year, Apple cancelled its $578 million multi-year contract manufacturing agreement with GT Advanced Technologies, forcing the company to filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and fire all the workers at the Mesa facility.
This week the British Broadcasting Corporation aired an undercover expose demonstrating that Foxconn’s Chinese factories that make Apple products work employees on 12-hour daily shifts and regularly exceed 60 hours a week. Promises made by Apple to protect workers in the wake of a spate of suicides at supplier Foxconn in 2010 were “routinely broken”.
The BBC film undercover film footage showed that the company’s health and safety exam at their Pegatron factory had workers chanting out answers in unison to make sure no one failed the compliance audit.
One BBC reporter said he had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off. The footage also appeared to show workers had no choice to opt out of doing night shifts or working while standing.
The BBC’s evening Panorama show found that tin from illegal mines in Indonesia where children work in dangerous conditions could also be entering Apple’s supply chain.
Apple’s PR machine responded by proclaiming to CNBC that “We are aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions.” Apple added, “We work with suppliers to address shortfalls, and we see continuous and significant improvement, but we know our work is never done.”
President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are on a 17 day vacation in Hawaii and presumably were too busy to comment to CNBC on the latest Apple slave labor scandal.