Apple and Foxconn

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An actor putting on a piece of stage drama that is essentially a polemic seems like a bizarre piece of theater to me. That CBS would feature that piece in its coverage of the story seems like questionable journalism.

The infographic at the bottom of the story paints a completely different story.

The eight-hour work day and 40-hour work week are products of the American and European labor movement. I fear that the global economy is slowly but surely destroying the gains that labor has made.

Ironically, I’m sure the Foxconn employees are members of a labor union. I believe its a requirement in China. But in the totalitarian Chinese regime, I’m sure they don’t have the bargaining power that American unions have (or at least had). I find that ironic too since American labor unions have always been accused of being communist in sympathy.

I worry about the effect of the global economy on the conditions of workers here and around the world. My basic belief is that the global economy is leveling conditions for the developing world at the expense of the developed world. I think over all, that’s fair. But I also worry about the lack of power that workers have in the developing world.

Is Foxconn a sweat shop? Probably–at least by western standards. Is the CBS (and other) coverage unfairly anti-apple? Probably. Are the workers there better off than the average Chinese worker? Probably.

I view this coverage (as I think we should view all news coverage) with a skeptical eye.

But I do have a bias: The Amazon Kindle is also manufactured by Foxconn in Shinzhen. As you know, I work for Amazon on the Kindle,

Will this recent negative publicity that Apple’s been receiving make a difference in Chinese working conditions? Maybe.


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