Fighting for people over profits
UPDATE: We did it! We hit 150,000 signers. Can we get to 200,000 now?
Every day, tens of millions of people will swipe the screens of their iPhones to unlock them.
On the other side of the world, a young girl is also swiping those screens. Six days a week, twelve-plus hours a day, she repetitively swipes tens of thousands of them. She spends those hours inhaling chemicals that are never disclosed to her. For her labor, she makes less than $17 a day, is forced to work unpaid overtime, and, when her supervisors want to punish her, she is humiliated and forced to clean toilets.
Sound like a horror story? According to recent reports, scenarios like this are a waking nightmare for many workers in Apple’s Chinese supply chain.
Tell Apple: You’re the most profitable company in the world. It’s time to treat your workers ethically.
Right now we’re partnering with corporate accountability group SumOfUs.org because we have a huge opportunity as citizen-consumers: Apple is under enormous, sustained pressure to reform its supply chain in the run-up to its new iPhone. It even hired the Fair Labor Association (FLA), to inspect its factories, and publicly vowed to reform. But an independent investigation by Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior found that, for many workers things are actually getting worse.
That’s right, after vowing to fix its problems, Apple is turning a blind eye as many workers now report lower wages and forced overtime, along with continued, humiliating punishments by management. In extreme cases, people have literally been dying while making Apple products. Reporters have documented cases of deadly, preventable, explosions at iPad factories, and repeated instances of employees dying of exhaustion after long shifts.[4,5,6]
Can Apple truly reform? Absolutely. Apple is the richest company in the world, posting a record-breaking gross profit margin for the last quarter of 45.7%. It’s sitting on $110 billion in cash. And while Apple makes hundreds of dollars of profit on each iPhone or iPad it sells, only $8 and $10 (respectively) goes to the workers that make it.[9,10,11] Simply put, Apple could double or even triple the amount it pays to laborers without a serious impact on its bottom line. But instead Apple has been paying out its shareholders, and set aside a record-shattering $378 million for its CEO Tim Cook last year. That’s over $1,000,000 a day, or nearly 60,000 times the salary of the people who make the products that make Tim Cook rich. [12,13]
Why are we targeting Apple specifically? This is a bigger problem than Apple, but no company is in a better position to improve things than Apple: Its record profits and eye-popping cash-on-hand have come off the backs of workers pushed to the brink — and sometimes beyond — by its tight deadlines and impossible demands. In addition, Apple, as the largest customer of Foxconn’s, is in a unique position to improve the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of human beings. And if Apple actually did mandate changes at Foxconn, they would ripple across the sector to raise wages and improve working conditions for everyone making our electronics in China.
According to an anonymous Apple executive quoted in a major exposé in the New York Times, all Apple has to do is demand change, and it’ll happen – “Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.” As a company that prides itself on being an industry leader in the tech world, Apple needs to take the lead in ethical treatment of its workers.