Saturday, April 07, 2012

Corporations Flee Right-Wing ALEC: Yet Another Win for Progressives « 2012 The Awakening:

With all the hubbub over Mike Daisey’s unfortunate embellishments in his spoken-word performance about Foxconn workers, it became easy to lose sight of the truths in Daisey’s work: namely that factory workers at Foxconn do routinely endure unacceptable conditions to make the products that we, as consumers, enjoy on a regular basis. We created the market for those workers’ jobs, and then we allowed our beloved tech companies to get away with not enforcing labor rules as strictly as they should. It’s a situation that was not okay before Daisey infamously lied to This American Life fact-checkers, and it is a situation that is not okay now.

The good news is that activists have made at least some headway in campaigns targeting Apple for its lax enforcement of labor rules in China. Both Daisey’s story and a subsequent investigation in the New York Times helped prompt a new wave of public interest in Foxconn worker conditions earlier this year (we can thank Daisey for that). supporters and other activists ran with that interest, pulling in more than 250,000 signatures for a petition targeting Apple and organizing protests around the world.

Soon after, watchdog group the Fair Labor Association released a new report on worker conditions at the plant, finding “at least 43 violations of Chinese laws and regulations, and numerous instances where Foxconn defied industry codes of conduct by having employees work more than 60 hours a week, and sometimes more than 11 days in a row,” according to the Times. In response, Foxconn said it would “work with Apple to carry out [a] remediation program, developed by both our companies.” Although there is legitimate concern about how much of an impact these changes will have, and when they will be implemented, the changes could, per the Times, “signal a new, wide-reaching change in working conditions throughout China.”

It may not be enough, but it is a significant step forward that activists (and yes, Mike Daisey) should celebrate.