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Posts Tagged ‘electronics’

The secret is out: Apple has a worm inching its way through its corporate flesh. January was a tough month on the Cupertino, California company venerated for its innovation and vision.

The controversy emerged when an Apple contractor in China, a manufacturing facility known as Foxconn where many brand-name electronics are assembled largely by hand, made headlines when dozens of workers threatened to jump to their deaths over a labor dispute. Foxconn’s solution? Erect netting beneath roofs and windows.

It doesn’t end there. For 12-hour shifts, six-days-per week and a live-in lifestyle workers allegedly earn just $17, the New York Times reports. Forbes and PC Magazine added their own angle to the news. One such detail described a high-level manager who, at a Chinese zoo, asked a zookeeper to provide advice on how to deal with his workers, drawing a direct comparison between factory workers and undomesticated animals. It gets worse. A NYT piece, “In China, Human Costs are Built into iPad“, refers to two dozen accidental worker deaths that have occurred as a result of unsafe working conditions. Finally, in “This American Life” the narrator of “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” recounts a first-hand meetup with underage Chinese workers, among scores of others who suffer permanent neurological tremors and ticks as a consequence of over-exposure to a chemical toxin.

For all the outrage, many argue such are the inescapable growing pains of a Third World labor force “coming up”. At one time, the United States, too, was known for worker exploitation, a chief reason child labor laws gained traction and unions became a bulwark against corrupt and abusive management practices. And yet, even at the height of the union movement in the US such organizations represented only a fraction of the workforce. Nonetheless, what began as labor negotiating with management to build a viable American middle class has transformed in recent decades to its polar opposite: a perception that unions destroy American prosperity.

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Going Broke: Veterans of a Post-American Economy

Last week: A late-model Qantas A380 jet engine disintegrates mid-air, with passengers lucky to have survived the ensuing in-flight trauma. This week: A two-year-old Carnival cruise ship is towed into a San Diego, California port after an engine crankcase spontaneously splits open, erupting in fire. Passengers in this case, too, were lucky that the worst they suffered was cold food, limited electrical power and non-operable toilets. And in what would have been shocking 10 years ago, news of contaminated meat, recalled produce and unsafe drugs are now so routine that most of us shrug it off.

In such situations, the finger-pointing tends to be brand, manufacturer or supplier-specific. Indeed, it is tempting to chalk up such news to a series of unfortunate flukes. But is that the best and brightest lesson we can draw — or does our mainstream news media tend to downplay or disregard the Big Picture?

 

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