250,000 Sign Petition to Apple to End Slave Conditions at Its Suppliers

Outraged at the inhumane treatment of workers in China who make iPads, iPhones and other Apple products, protesters visited a half-dozen Apple stores around the world last week to deliver petitions calling for reforms in the working conditions at factories run by Apple’s suppliers, accroding to Democracy Now!

A demonstration at Apple’s Grand Central Terminal store in New York City drew a dozen people, who peacefully handed over a petition with 250,000 signatures to an Apple store manager. Shelby Knox, the director for Change.org, led the effort to collect the signatures.

Knox and New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, who helped break the story about the horrific conditions involved in producing the world’s most popular products, spoke on Friday with Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. Also on the show: Mike Daisey, whose one-man play, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” is based partly on his visits to Apple’s Chinese factories and his interviews with the workers there. Daisey pointed out one of the key reasons the ability of Apple suppliers like Foxconn to institute slave-like working conditions — lack of a free labor movement.

Labor organization in China is illegal. If you organize a union in China that is separate from the Communist Party, and those are largely fronts, in terms of working conditions, you go to prison if you’re caught by the government. So, that largely shuts down any sort of serious effort at labor organization. I think that’s part and parcel of the landscape. I mean, there’s a reason why this environment works so well for the needs of creating a hyperinflated, hyper-growing industrial revolution, and that’s that you have a base of workers who live under an authoritarian government and can be controlled. The circumstances are very controlled. And so, I think that’s part of the equation that we don’t like to look at.

Read the full transcript of the show and watch the video here.