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Reading Foxconn Headlines Today? Take An Interest In Where Your Stuff Comes From

Dave Burdick

Today, we're all reading reports of a riot at a Foxconn site in China. When consumers took an interest in where Apple products were coming from, there was a big push for Apple to improve conditions at factories in their supply chain—places like Foxconn—and it made a difference. Activists now say that Apple is among the best at auditing factory conditions (but that there's still a lot of room for improvement). Find out what certifications your favorite companies do or don't have. Share that info.

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  • Jed Oelbaum

    http://gawker.com/5946307/boycotting-apple-wont-help-the-rioting-foxconn-workers-who-built-your-iphone

    Interesting interview - endorses self-empowerment for the Chinese worker, and in this particular case, plays down the effectiveness of boycotts and other consumer activism. Personally, I've been inadvertently boycotting Apple for years, as paying two months rent for a laptop hasn't been an option. Anyway, here is a list of successful recent boycotts:

    http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/boycotts/successfulboycotts.aspx

    Thoughts?

    • Dave Burdick

      Well, one strange thing that I took away from reading the above story and others around the first reports of the riot was that it seemed like progress more than anything else -- in that the workers have become emboldened enough to try to improve their situation. Violence and destruction aren't really my favorite things, of course, but neither are the working conditions for those making things I buy and -- as you point out with this Gawker piece -- there are a lot of things that have to be accomplished on the ground in China. Bottom line: Boycotts work for some things and not for others. It's certainly easier in industries where there are more legitimate competitors to the target of the boycott. Brands are worth more than anything right now, and tying a big brand to a big social issue -- in this case Apple to inhumane work conditions in its supply chain -- seems to have had more impact here. Thanks for the great comment and links!