Apple Admits It Has a Workplace Problem

From The Independent:

Facing a growing scandal over the working conditions of those making its best-selling gadgets, Apple has called in assessors from the same organization that was set up to stamp out sweatshops in the clothing industry more than a decade ago. The move is an admission that Apple’s own system of monitoring suppliers has failed to stamp out abuses, and that the negative publicity surrounding its Chinese operations threatens to cause a consumer backlash against its products.

I blogged about this a month ago. I think this announcement suggests the power of This American Life (which recently aired a show about working conditions at Apple’s factories) or Steve Jobs (his ability to “see no evil”) or both. It reminds me of the American Civil Rights movement. That movement made considerable progress soon after TV became widespread and Northerners could see Southern brutality on the evening news. Mike Daisey, via This American Life, suddenly made this problem a lot clearer to a lot of people outside Apple, thereby putting pressure on Apple management.

25 Replies to “Apple Admits It Has a Workplace Problem”

  1. YOU SAID:
    “…the American Civil Rights movement … made considerable progress soon after TV became widespread and Northerners could see Southern brutality on the evening news.”

    It’s hard for me to think of TV, especially with “reality” shows, violence, and Rupert Murdoch’s Faux News, as being a force for good. But what do I know? I don’t even have a TV.

    You may be a little bit correct about TV having an effect on the politics of civil rights. However, I would suggest that the real change came from a repositioning of the political parties, as the Democratic voters shifted to the north and west, and the GOP embraced the views of the Old South. The recent failure of Jon Huntsman showed that the once-mighty moderate wing of the GOP has been replaced by the likes of anti-moderates like Santorum and Gingrich.

  2. I am uncomfortable about the disingenuous reporting side of this, and I’m very skeptical about the cause-effect relationship. The media attacks anyone who has a vulnerability, whether it’s in the interests of society or not. The more high profile the target, the more money the media can make by selling advertising against the attention it attracts.

    Apple has been openly reporting labor problems on its own, for years, and it very much appears that they called in the FLA voluntarily, before the NYT or NPR pieces.

    It’s flat out dishonest of the media in general (not Seth) to present Apple as a problem case without pointing out that they are ahead of their competitors in this area. If they wanted to help more, they could promote real competition in this are by showing comparisons rather than hoodwinking people into supporting companies with even worse practices.

    1. Robin, the only media I have seen criticizing Apple lately has been This American Life — is this what you mean by “NPR”? If it is, I am curious why you think it was dishonest. The TAL program started with Apple and emphasized Apple but it did not end with Apple — working conditions at non-Apple factories were considered — and it gave a voice to a defender of these factories (Nicholas Kristof). To me it was basically a show about how American companies exported jobs overseas but did not export the worker protections that had grown up around those jobs. This is how the show ended — with Daisey saying that.

  3. Seth, this really is much ado about nothing. Adjust for whatever the heck you want, you’ll be hard=pressed to find *any* context that says working at Foxconn is worse than these worker’s other available opportunities.

    Adjusting for location (urban/rural) actually isn’t appropriate because many workers flock to the urban factories to escape rural life – their next best option is working on the farm, where they’d have much higher risks of every sort including the risk of causing their family to starve. But as for the rest, the documented suicide rate at Foxconn isn’t merely lower than that in china generally; it’s also lower than that in the US and lower than the rate at US or chinese colleges (an appropriate comparison since assembly workers tend to be in the 16-21 age group).

    One way we know that conditions are *unusually good* at Foxconn is that one of the problems Apple found (and is trying to stamp out) is that many workers are willing to pay large bribes to third parties in order to get these jobs. Some pay more than a month’s salary in advance as a kickback to intermediaries.

    Near as I can tell, the chief problem here is that people aren’t willing to do math. They just say “20 people in a year seems like a lot” without making that a percentage or comparing it to *anything*. But Foxconn employs more people than the entire population of Wyoming, so our intuitions about how many should happen are out of whack. If you want to claim “too many” people are harmed in industrial accidents or are committing suicide or are in violation of safety regulations or even in are violation of local child-labor laws, one thing you might try is to find the equivalent numbers for the population of Wyoming. Hint: they’ll probably be worse. I have yet to see any such comparison that made Foxconn look bad.

    (full disclosure: I’ve worked in a Chinese factory alongside assembly workers; I’ve also seen Mike Daisey’s show. After the show I asked him a clarifying question and he admitted he exaggerates a bit for dramatic purposes.)

    1. Adjust for whatever the heck you want, you’ll be hard=pressed to find *any* context that says working at Foxconn is worse than these worker’s other available opportunities.

      1. If you have done any adjustments, what were the results? No epidemiologist on earth would seriously compare rates of suicide among Foxconn workers to “Chinese national average”. What about comparisons to American workers of similar age, job, etc.? What about comparisons to Foxconn suicide rates in earlier years?

      2. The workplace injury comparison in the graphic was not between “these worker’s other available opportunities”, it was with US workers. I think it is praiseworthy, not “nonsense” (Forbes), that at least some Americans believe Chinese workers should be as safe as American workers doing similar jobs. Which is blatantly not the case. Not because of the suicides, which are hard to interpret without more comparisons, but because of other problems, such as repetitive strain damage. As Daisey says. I agree with the Forbes writer (Tim Worstall) about wages but not working conditions. I don’t think Daisey complained about low wages.

      3. Fine to criticize Daisey but pointless to leave out the details. What did you ask him and what did he reply?

  4. > I think it is praiseworthy, not “nonsense” (Forbes), that at least some Americans believe Chinese workers should be as safe as American workers doing similar jobs. Which is blatantly not the case.

    What’s your evidence that this is “blatantly not the case”? We know the rate of *fatal* work injury is *higher* for American workers than for Foxconn workers and it often makes sense to use fatal injuries (which are easiest to unambiguously measure) as a proxy for non-fatal ones. I’ve seen no calculation of repetitive strain injuries per 100,000 there but it seems likely to me that’s lower at Foxconn too, based on the additional context that this is work young people do for quite a short period of time. (and also based on my knowledge of the work conditions at a similar plant)

    > If you have done any adjustments, what were the results? No epidemiologist on earth would seriously compare rates of suicide among Foxconn workers to “Chinese national average”. What about comparisons to American workers of similar age, job, etc.?

    The Foxconn suicide rate is less than the suicide rate of American college students, who are of a roughly similar age. (It’s hard to compare to American *workers* of a similar age/job since many American workers at the same age aren’t allowed to work full-time.) I think it’s incumbent on those claiming Foxconn’s rates are unacceptable to find *some* comparison that Foxconn is worse than so we can figure out what rates they *would* consider acceptable.

    In his show, Daisey implied there were much older workers on the factory line, which wasn’t true. He did this partly for comic effect when taking about how factories allegedly evade “child labor” restrictions by swapping in their oldest workers when the inspectors arrive. I asked him if he actually *met* any old workers (say, older than 26) and he said he hadn’t and that he had exaggerated. If repetitive motion injuries are caused by doing the same job for a very long period of time, it’s relevant that nobody does this for a full career. Most people don’t do this job for long; they’re there for, say, 2-3 years and then go do something else. The nearest relevant US comparison might be with working at McDonald’s. Or being in the army.

    Daisey complained that if you were to start work (illegally) at 14 and work the same station the same way continuously until you’re 23 it’d be bad for your health, ignoring the fact that nobody does that. The jobs don’t stay stable for that long nor do the workers stick around for that long. If you deal with the conditions and problems that actually exist in practice rather than the worst hypotheticals one can dream up, it’s not so bad. Yes, you can find sad hard-luck stories there, but you’d be able to do that anywhere given the size of the relevant population.

    1. What’s your evidence that this is “blatantly not the case”?

      What Daisey said. Plus what is in China Blue, a movie about blue-jean production in China.

      We know the rate of *fatal* work injury is *higher* for American workers than for Foxconn workers and it often makes sense to use fatal injuries (which are easiest to unambiguously measure) as a proxy for non-fatal ones.

      Jobs differ enormously in how often they cause injury. This is why such comparisons (Americans with all jobs vs. Foxconn workers) are not very convincing.

  5. > What Daisey said.

    Daisey has made no effort to place the safety at Foxconn in a context that would allow statistical comparison with the US. He did demonstrate that some people (out of a population of hundreds of thousands) were injured, but did NOT demonstrate the injury rate to be unusual or higher than that in the US. He didn’t calculate the rate and didn’t compare it to anything else. All efforts to actually do so have failed to demonstrate these factories to be unusually bad.

    > Plus what is in China Blue, a movie about blue-jean production in China.

    The garment industry is totally different from the electronics assembly industry. Working conditions in electronics assembly are far, far better. To make electronic products that work, you need a working environment that is clean and cool and dust-free and well-lit and you need to break the tasks into chunks that are really really easy for your workers to replicate *flawlessly*, which involves constructing the right custom fixtures and making sure the exact right tool for each job is close at hand and the work environment generally conducive to the work being done.

    Jeans (and shoes!) can be made in a hot, muggy, dusty, poorly-lit factory by exhausted and stressed-out workers and the product will still be functional at the end. iPads and iPhones cannot, so it’s largely for the benefit of the *product* that the conditions at Foxconn are so good.

    BTW, the head of the FLA agrees. Quote: “Working conditions at Chinese manufacturing plants where Apple Inc’s iPads and iPhones are made are far better than those at garment factories or other facilities elsewhere in the country, according to the head of a non-profit agency investigating the plants.” source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/15/us-china-apple-idUSTRE81E1FQ20120215

    1. Daisey has made no effort to place the safety at Foxconn in a context that would allow statistical comparison with the US.

      He said that Chinese workers are not rotated the way American workers are. Surely rotation reduces repetitive strain injuries. That is why I do not need additional evidence to convince me that chinese workers have more repetitive strain injuries than Americans doing similar jobs.

      The china blue stuff goes to make the point that workplace protections are much weaker in china than in America.

  6. >He said that Chinese workers are not rotated the way American workers are.

    No, he didn’t do that. He did rather dubiously *assert* that Chinese workers never rotate tasks, but he made no effort to evaluate whether American workers doing similar work rotate tasks more often than Chinese workers do. It’s vaguely plausible that they might, but you’d have to gather evidence to establish it. In fact, you’d have to gather evidence both here *and* in China, since what Daisey did to get this claim was seek out malcontents. He didn’t do a random survey, he sought out people who had complaints. I don’t doubt that those particular workers made those complaints, but we can be pretty sure the average worker’s experience was a fair bit better than the experiences of those who were gathering illegally to try to form a union.

    Imagine if you went to a American non-union manufacturing plant and talked to the local union organizers and the people they thought you should hear from. (this is essentially what Daisey did in China to get his RSI story). Do you think you couldn’t in that situation find a few people claiming they work too long at tasks that are likely to cause RSI? Would you then extrapolate from their experience and assume it’s typical of the half-million other workers you hadn’t heard from? Or might you take into account the selection bias that caused you to find those particular workers and conclude that there might be a problem but the extent of the problem is as-yet undetermined?

    1. Glen, okay, you think it is selection bias.

      You seem to have ignored this sentence by me: “The china blue stuff goes to make the point that workplace protections are much weaker in china than in America.” Do you believe that Chinese workplace protections resemble American workplace protections? That Chinese workplaces are as safe as American workplaces doing the same job? If so, why?

  7. >> Glen, okay, you think it is selection bias.

    Seth it seems to me that at this point you probably should admit that there most likely is a problem with selection bias in the whole apple story (rather than just stating what Glen thinks). Since you do not I suspect you might be falling victim to various human thinking biases such as: http://lesswrong.com/lw/jx/we_change_our_minds_less_often_than_we_think/. The following sentence just struck me: Eliezer Yudkowsky – Knowing about common biases doesn’t help you obtain truth if you only use this knowledge to attack beliefs you don’t like.

    Besides that I praise you both for an interesting rational discussion!

  8. I think electronics assembly in China at Foxconn is probably at least as safe as the sorts of jobs done by people of a similar age in the US. This despite or regardless of China having fewer explicit “workplace protection” laws and a more corrupt legal system. My reason for thinking this is as follows:

    (1) The job itself inherently promotes safety. Unlike most jobs, electronics assembly (especially FOR APPLE) requires ludicrously small error tolerances or else the product doesn’t work and building it isn’t profitable.

    People tend to get injured on a job when they make mistakes. People tend to make mistakes when they are in a rush or tired or careless or haven’t received proper instruction or don’t have the right tools for their task or aren’t being well supervised. But people who make mistakes don’t produce a consistently high-quality end product. Foxconn’s margin on these products is tiny and the value of each product produced is large. If they force workers to work faster or harder than their capacity (or force them to work with inadequate tools or inadequate light or…), the workers are likely not just to occasionally injure themselves but also to make mistakes that generate tens or hundreds or thousands of worthless iPhones, wiping out the profit margin for the run or even causing Apple to pick another supplier. In short, Foxconn has every incentive to make the work segments utterly consistently achievable which has the side effect of making the work unusually safe. Certainly safer than, say, working in a restaurant. (And unusually boring, which explains the high turnover rate).

    (2) Foxconn in particular has rather ludicrous economies of scale. Every possible mistake that could injure a worker (which invariably costs time and money and holds up production) has been seen by now and most have been dealt with. They work on such a scale that even the tiniest available improvement in per-worker productivity is worth spending some money and effort chasing down and fixing.

    (3) I’ve been on a Chinese assembly line, and it just plain felt boringly safe. It’s hard to explain, but the fact that everything is being so meticulously measured and controlled is a big part of it. Whereas my intuition suggests that US workers (who don’t live on site and have more autonomy) are more likely to goof off or show up at work with a hangover, leading to mistakes and injuries.

    All that said, I do have a few caveats. My argument does apply to the most visible job that employs the most people – assembly – but the same argument does not apply with the same force to one-off jobs like manufacturing the tooling. There *are* jobs at Foxconn that won’t have been so brutally optimized for efficiency (and hence, safety) because these jobs don’t have the same leverage as assembly-line work. Those jobs might be less safe (albeit more efficient and more convenient to the workers) than their U.S. equivalents. And I saw this in China too – the people who made the tooling at GSL didn’t wear their safety goggles (because the goggles were hot and uncomfortable to wear) while cutting metal and there was nobody ordering them to do so. That end of production might well be a lot less safe…but that’s not where most of the employment is and wasn’t what the recent allegations were aimed at.

    I didn’t comment on China Blue mostly because I haven’t seen it.

    I am sure Chinese employers are more abusive in various ways than American employers, because China hasn’t got our legal culture – there’s no army of lawyers willing to file class-action suits against denial of back pay or what-have-you. I’m sure there’s lots of room for improvement in other areas. But the claim that successful electronics assembly-line work could scale up to the size of Foxconn while specifically being *less safe* than other forms of manual labor strikes me as a claim that requires *actual evidence* to establish. “some injuries exist” does not constitute evidence that it’s unsafe, since that will always be true for any employer. What would constitute evidence would have to involve an injury rate and at least one point of comparison – that Foxconn’s rate is worse than some other relevant rate somewhere else. Absent that, I tend to give Foxconn the benefit of the doubt.

    1. The suicide rate at Foxconn. I don’t think the owners of Foxconn are stupid. If there were a comparison suicide rate that showed the Foxconn suicide rate to be innocuous, I believe they would have brought it to my (and the world’s) attention. Instead I am shown the nonsense of a comparison to overall Chinese suicide rate. As if I am stupid. That alone makes me think something is seriously wrong. What evidence would I like to see? Suicide rates at Foxconn in previous years. Suicide rates at similar factories, including other countries. Safety records likewise. This isn’t complicated — but such evidence is absent. I believe it is absent because it would not make Foxconn look good. Again, I am assuming the people in charge of Foxconn are not stupid and are making the best defense money can buy.

      “The job itself promotes safety.” Really? Surely trained workers make less mistakes and are safer than untrained workers. If so — and if the job is as optimized as you claim — why do workers quit so soon, requiring untrained workers to replace them? Why don’t they make the job more attractive, thereby increasing the training level of the average worker? I don’t know why workers quit so fast but whatever their reasons, they are aspects of the job that do not promote saftey. I am unpersuaded by your Candide-like argument (“Foxconn has every incentive . . . “) that things must be good because margins are thin.

      Oh yes, Foxconn is safer than other forms of manual labor.

      I don’t think much of the random inspection stuff that Apple PR promotes. It is much more about protecting Apple than protecting the employees. But it is better than nothing. As Apple indicates with their latest announcement, it can be improved.

      Daisey’s contribution, in my opinion, is his attempt to listen to Foxconn employees. To give them a voice. There are many ways to do such a thing. His is only one way, with obvious sampling biases. There are other ways. I hope they are tried. Until someone such as Daisey begins to make clear what can be learned from listening to employees, there is unlikely to be any pressure to do so. The TV show Undercover Boss makes clear episode after episode how much the reality of a job can differ from what people in high places (or distant places) imagine. High-ups at Apple, I’m sure, don’t know what Foxconn is like. Jobs made laughable statements (“swimming pool”). Maybe someday they will be forced to know — because the rest of us know.

      I look forward to a Chinese version of Undercover Boss.

      After I wrote this reply I saw this:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/technology/foxconn-to-raise-salaries-for-workers-by-up-to-25.html

      The salary raise argues against your idea that margins are thin (“Foxconn’s margin on these products is tiny”). Nor does this quote from the article support your overall view: “the auditor at the Fair Labor Association said recently that he had already found “tons of issues” at Foxconn plants.”

  9. > After I wrote this reply I saw [nyt article]

    Daisey claims in his show that the last time Foxconn announced salaries would be increased, it was just an accounting trick. The prior convention had been that workers get a very small salary *plus room and board*. American journalists have been prone to ignoring the room-and-board part when making cross-country comparison. We just look at the bottom-line salary, ignoring that this job provides “a living wage” by definition – it pays for food and shelter.

    So the trick is to price that in. In order to get some good press, the company announced salaries would increase by 30%…but simultaneously started charging for some of the previously-free rent and/or food so that on balance the compensation package was approximately unchanged. Given the sheer amount of services Foxconn provides for its workers, it’s hard to know whether this new “up to 25%” increase is meaningful.

    > High-ups at Apple, I’m sure, don’t know what Foxconn is like.

    What makes you so sure? When I worked at a company in silicon valley that did its production in China, we sent engineers and management at various levels to the factory on a regular basis. Certainly there are people at Apple who know what it’s like better than Daisey does. I spent months in China working alongside the assembly workers when we were debugging our production process and getting the quality level up, as did others in QA, product management, hardware design and senior management. I’d be surprised if Jobs himself didn’t visit the factory. Jobs’ statements weren’t laughable to those of us who have BEEN to a Chinese factory.

    On the suicide rate: We’ve heard so far that Foxconn’s appears to be much lower than China (overall), China (college students), US (overall), US (college students), and US (auto manufacturing), which ought to be enough to shift the burden of proof to the other side. The rates at “similar factories” are not available because (a) nobody keeps the info indexed that way, (b) it’s not even clear what would constitute being sufficiently “similar”.

    > Nor does this quote from the article support your overall view

    It’s ambiguous. I’m sure there are “tons of issues”, but having “issues” doesn’t mean the job is fundamentally unsafe. “issues” are likely to include things such as long hours and unpaid overtime that aren’t relevant to the current discussion.

    Seth: I am going to post again on this so I will be brief here. “We sent engineers and management at various levels to the factory on a regular basis”. Okay, what was the purpose of these visits? I’ve heard of such visits. If I am not mistaken, their purpose was to make sure the products were being manufactured appropriately — meaning high enough quality. Nothing to do with worker safety or worker complaints. I think there is something to what you are saying here — that it is to Daisey’s advantage to exaggerate bad working conditions. Likewise it is to many other people’s advantage. But it is likewise to many people’s advantage to hide bad working conditions. Which is why I don’t take seriously these visits by engineers from your company — who even if they spoke regional dialects (very unlikely) would not be terribly interested in listening to people far below them on the social scale (factory workers).

  10. I personally liked the factory workers and enjoyed trying to communicate with them. They seemed like happy, healthy teenagers. I was interested in listening to them out of normal human curiosity and to practice my language skills. We didn’t have particularly deep conversations because I only spoke a very small amount of Mandarin and they only spoke a very small amount of English, going through a translator was tedious, and we had few points of common experience. (For instance, they didn’t know where California was). We mostly communicated non-verbally. For instance, I taught them some magic tricks involving rubber bands. And we sketched in notebooks to get ideas across. We didn’t discuss safety or worker complaints because I had no reason to think this was an issue of concern (this was in 1998/1999). (At my factory the workers spoke Mandarin and the managers spoke Cantonese; we often had a translator assigned to us.)

    The purpose of our visits was to keep production on deadline, to establish an acceptable quality level and to track down the source of various problems we were seeing in preproduction so they could be resolved in the next run. Toward that end, I brought some specialized test equipment, showed them how to set it up and use it and actually sat on the line and ran my own tests on devices as they came down the line. I consulted with their white-gloved QA people and helped them decide what did or didn’t constitute a failure. I debugged some of their software installation processes. At the same time, one of our hardware engineers looked at the steps being followed to assemble a tricky custom component that wasn’t working very well and tried to debug what could be done to make it more reliable.

    While at the factory, we saw up close a reasonable slice of what the job consisted of, both for workers on our line during this preproduction run and for workers on some neighboring lines doing regular production runs. The products I saw produced included PocketMail, the Sharp Wizard, and some electronic language dictionary products, all produced at the GSL (Group Sense Limited) factory in Dongguan. (This one: http://www.groupsense-sp.com.hk/en/contacts.php )

    Here’s a picture of me at my test station – the workers found it hilarious whenever I put on a pink cap since that cap style/color does indicate social status: http://impel.com/pictures/glen_factory.jpg

    Here’s a shot that shows the scale of the factory floor with a couple lines running: http://impel.com/pictures/factory.jpg

    The workers worked long hours sometimes…but then, so did we. The work I saw didn’t seem especially strenuous; the working conditions were obviously MUCH BETTER than those at most of the jobs in that city on account of having good lighting and good air conditioning and reliable power and well-made custom fixtures and the right tools close at hand. Salary aside, it seemed like a decent job. One of the people I work with today grew up near Foxconn and had friends who worked at places like that; her impressions matched mine. As did what I heard thirdhand by way of a coworker who was dating a local at the time. Given the scale on which Apple produces, I assume Apple has people permanently at the factory who have better language skills than we did.

    If you want to hypothesize that the conditions get worse when there’s nobody looking, the trouble is that there’s just about always somebody looking. The squeaky wheel gets the grease; in order to get problems resolved quickly you pretty much *have* to have people visiting the factory in person on a regular basis. Both my company and Sharp Electronics had people there quite often.

    It’s low-status dead-end transitional employment; the turnover rate is high for much the same reason the turnover rate is high at McDonalds or Disneyland. It’s not a career; it’s something people do for a couple years until they find something better to do elsewhere.

  11. The Nightline report on Foxconn is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLuPtMvvwA0

    One interesting thing they did was go to the nearby city and see how the dorms compare to where the workers were living before. If I were to do what Mike Daisey did, my questions would include: (a) If you weren’t working at Foxconn, what would you be doing instead? (b) what do you plan to do in a few years, and how is this job preparing you for the future?

    Note that is that according to the Nightline segment the dormitory housing is paid for with <1 day's wages per month. That is extremely cheap, suggesting that it's still mostly paid for by the employer.

    Note also that if one employer in China were to (as suggested at the end) pay more than double the market rate, this would cause riots among jobseekers and kickbacks and all sorts of corruption – these jobs would end up going to the politically well connected rather than those who need them most and the excess profit would get competed away. Apple can make things a little better – and has – but asking them to double wages across the board seems frankly insane.

  12. This American Life has decided to officially *retract* their story about Mike Daisey and the Apple Factory on the basis that Daisey was simply lying about a lot of what he claimed to experience. Some of the parts I found implausible turned out, in fact, not to have happened. Daisey’s defense is that the story he tells is essentially a work of fiction – it makes for better *theater* if he pretends to have *personally met* with underaged workers and workers injured by n-hexane or who had their hand crushed whereas in fact he appears to be combining stories he’s heard third-hand about factories in general and telling them as his own in the context of the Apple factory, adding poignant details here and there so it reads better.

    Ira Glass now says “I suspect that many things that Mike Daisey claims to have experienced personally did not actually happen.”

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/blog/2012/03/retracting-mr-daisey-and-the-apple-factory

    Seth: Thanks, Glen. To make up stuff about those you are criticizing is a huge mistake, at least if you want to improve things. To say it is okay because it is “dramatic license” — as Daisey has — is absurd.

  13. More details on the retraction here:
    http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/ieconomy/acclaimed-apple-critic-made-details

    Quote: “Daisey claims he met underage workers at Foxconn. He says he talked to a man whose hand was twisted into a claw from making iPads. He describes visiting factory dorm rooms with beds stacked to the ceiling. But Cathy says none of this happened. ”

    The fact that the incidents Daisey talks about are such statistically rare events – something that affects less than one in ten thousand workers. happening at one specific plant, one specific year – makes it extremely unlikely that a single man could have managed to find so many good examples. If one assumes Mike Daisey is telling the truth, it really does cast doubt on the notion that these incidents are as rare as they are.

    But he was lying.

    In retrospect, the claim to have seen the workers quarters should have been a tip-off. I never saw the worker quarters at GSL and it’s hard to imagine a reasonable pretext for why Daisey would have been shown them. How would that conversation even go? “I’m thinking of using your factory to build my product, but first I need to know…what the worker dormitories look like!” I mean, really? Who does that?

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