Last week, Apple released for the first time the list of companies that supply components and manufacturing services to the company. It also announced that it would allow the Fair Labor Association to oversee independent audits of assembly plants employed by Apple.
A week before this news, This American Life aired “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,” which followed lifelong Apple superfan, Mike Daisey, to an Apple assembly plant in China called Foxconn, where employees recently staged a protest and threatened to commit suicide.
On the show, Daisey reported on the conditions at the plant, and host Ira Glass talked with with Ian Spaulding, founder and managing director of INFACT Global Partners, which goes into Chinese factories and helps them meet social responsibility standards set by Western companies; and with Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times who has reported on Asian factories.
In the podcast and streaming versions of the program Glass also speaks with Debby Chan Sze Wan, a project manager at the advocacy group SACOM, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, based in Hong Kong. They’ve put out three reports investigating conditions at Foxconn (October 2010, May 2011, Sept 2011). Each report surveyed over 100 Foxconn workers, and they even had a researcher go undercover and take a job at the Shenzhen plant.
This American Life producer Brian Reed wrote this response to Apple’s news.