I Phone For Help

It is scary to think that despite the fact technology is essential to my everyday life, I have never thought to think where it all comes from. People are concerned, or at least aware, about where clothes come from, if their coffee beans are free trade, if they are using green products and other aspects of their everyday consumer lives. But when it comes to the fastest growing industry, people rarely consider how their electronic devices were made.

Personally, I never thought about the roots of my electronics till my business class sophomore year when my teacher handed out an article about Foxconn and Apple. To be honest, I never heard of Foxconn even though they create one-third of the electronic we use. I assumed my electronics were made in some factory in China with complex machines I never have even seen. However, it takes an article about Foxconn putting nets on the side of their buildings to stop suicides to have me question the creation of electronics. This whole time people thousands of miles away working 15 hour shifts on minimum wage have created the majority of my electronics. It never occurred to me that they were like any other product: man made.

The circumstances Daisy explained in the factories made me ashamed to think that I never questioned my electronic devices. They closely monitor every move of the workers with cameras and staff looking over their shoulders. They force workers to stand all shift because they are “more efficient.” Factories demand quiet to ensure workers are working. The most horrific aspect of the factories to me was the dorms. Daisy described them as cement curbs that were stacked on top of one another so close that “none of us could actually fit in them.” These workers go through hell to obtain a minimum wage job that forces them to sleep in a crowded room where they can barely fit in their beds. Daisy even describes that when he was there an employee died because he was working a 34 hour shift.

The working conditions at Foxconn would never be accepted in the United States. By expanding labor overseas, we distanced ourselves from the ethical dilemma of fair labor. Especially in the tech industry, companies choose not to investigate and force suppliers to act morally. As Daisy said, companies and consumers “see what they want to see.” However, the way to stop these conditions is through companies demanding oversea suppliers to offer better working conditions. For example, Apple is starting to make a positive impact on Foxconn through demanding forcing them to offer counseling, numerous audits and constantly monitoring working conditions. Overall, people need to think critically about where electronics come from just like other consumer products. By doing this, people force companies like Apple, Dell, HP and other electronic companies to monitor and force suppliers to create better working conditions for employees.

4 thoughts on “I Phone For Help

  1. I completely agree with you that change has to come from the corporation. This is a huge issue that needs to be addressed from top down. It is very clear that consumers are going to continue to buy these products, whether aware of the labor issues or not. One might ask, if sales are not significantly slowing, how much has to change? This greedy mindset needs to be changed! This is an attractive opportunity for a company like Apple. Clearly people are already buying their products, but imagine if Apple could be the first technology company to drastically improve labor conditions overseas and turn this situation into positive PR? This could be a different kind of “first mover advantage”.

  2. I also completely agree. When I listened to the podcast my initial reactions were that i was disgusted by Apple. Regardless i was still going to use my iPhone for the next year – and the same goes for my Nike Sneakers. The only way to change is for activists to make it known to the public the problems with these companies. If the public and the stakeholders become aware of the unethical behavior of these corporations there will be more of a demand to change those problems thus becoming more ethical.

  3. First off, I really like the title assuming that you were going for a pun with it. However, I feel strongly about a lot of the same points as you if you read my post on this subject matter. When I get a cool piece of technology I look at in amazement and how sleek it is and normally download about 5,000 apps on it. However, I never once really though about where the product came from. To be truthfully honest, I had heard of Fox-conn before this class but didn’t know nearly the extent of the working conditions. Now, I question whether I as a 21 year old college student really need a $500 phone if it means a girl 7 years younger than me has to stand on her feet for hours to make them.

  4. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of Foxconn. Ever since the Apple production debacles of the last few years, they’ve been getting a lot of media coverage. They’ve also been embroiled in other employee treatment controversies involving other companies. Here’s a link to their wikipedia page if you want more info. The founder looks like a complete clown in the picture.



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