Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘No one in our industry is driving improvements for workers the way Apple is today’

Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent the following email to employees regarding the company’s manufacturing partners and Apple’s strict code of conduct:


We’ve just released our sixth annual update on conditions in Apple’s supply chain, and I want to personally share some of the results with you.

We insist that our manufacturing partners follow Apple’s strict code of conduct, and to make sure they do, the Supplier Responsibility team led more than 200 audits at facilities throughout our supply chain last year. These audits make sure that working conditions are safe and just, and if a manufacturer won’t live up to our standards, we stop working with them.

Thanks to our supplier responsibility program, we’ve seen dramatic improvements in hiring practices by our suppliers. To prevent the use of underage labor, our team interviews workers, checks employment records and audits the age verification systems our suppliers use. These efforts have been very successful and, as a result, cases of underage labor were down sharply from last year. We found no underage workers at our final assembly suppliers, and we will not rest until the number is zero everywhere.

We’ve also used our influence to substantially improve living conditions for the people who make our products. Apple set a new standard for suppliers who offer employee housing, to ensure that dormitories are comfortable and safe. To meet our requirements, many suppliers have renovated their dorms or built new ones altogether.

Finding and correcting problems is not enough. Our team has built an ambitious training program to educate workers about Apple’s code of conduct, workers’ rights, and occupational health and safety. More than one million people know about these rights because they went to work for an Apple supplier. Additionally, Apple offers continuing education programs free of charge at many manufacturing sites in China. More than 60,000 workers have enrolled in classes to learn business, entrepreneurial skills or English.

Finally, we are taking a big step today toward greater transparency and independent oversight of our supply chain by joining the Fair Labor Association. The FLA is a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving conditions for workers around the world, and we are the first technology company they’ve approved for membership. The FLA’s auditing team will have direct access to our supply chain and they will report their findings independently on their website.

No one in our industry is driving improvements for workers the way Apple is today. I encourage you to take some time to read more about these efforts, so that you can be as proud of Apple’s contributions in this area as I am. The details are online now at



  1. Where’s the “Samsung Clause”, that says “any vendor or supplier who takes advantage of their access to our technology, innovation, and intellectual property to launch competing products will see our dependency on them diminished and eventually ceased.”??

    1. Apple creates jobs in engineering and design in the US, in retail, indirectly in the advertising industry and by the investors spending money they make on Apple. There are no factories in the uS that I am aware of the scale of the Foxconn facitliies. Canun you imagine trying to get 10,000 workers to work at a single facility with 24 hour shifts, esnuring that they are not un -documented, are not on drugs, are trained and are at work on time and don’t need time of here and there. You may not recall the old adage, don’t buy a car made on a Friday or Monday because of quality issues due to worker absenteeism on those days. Farmers cant even get domestic workers to harvest crops. Poultry plants have to import contract workers, etc. etc.

      1. Welfare has created a class of people not interested in working. Picking beans was good enough for my mother when she was young in the 1930’s, (she was 2nd US generation of Italian immigrants) but such jobs are not good enough for todays well supported Welfare collectors.

    2. “Can we start to bring some of the work back home?”

      Once we get to the point of truly manageable full automation assembly it WILL HAPPEN.

      Right now that doesn’t seem possible because of all the repetitive, boring, lower/lowest skill assembly jobs.

      Labor costs are real. If Apple put a plant in Detroit, I don’t think it could have the labor costs low enough to make a laptop at $499. Apple keeps most of the truly high tech jobs right here in the US. Yes some divisions are somewhere in the UK or Israel, but most people are in the US.

  2. sure, we can bring the work home… when you find enough people that will work for $0.80 per hour.

    if that’s not possible, find enough people that are willing to pay $2000.00 for an iPod.

    thanks for playing.

    1. I am really getting tired of the moronic posts here on MDN regarding labor costs. Toyota, BMW, Honda, Nissan, etc all manufacture cars here in the US and that doesn’t make them more expensive. And there is more labor in the final assembly of a car (about 16%) than in a consumer electronic device (4-6%). Sorry to confuse you with the facts…

      1. Great post. However, electronics are made in low wage countries for a reason. Shipping costs on a per unit basis for a car are far higher than for an electronic gizmo. Making the car locally often is cheaper.

        But for electronics, you maximize profit by making the devices in the place where you can find skilled labor that works cheap. And don’t think it’s about anything else but maximizing profit. This is the age we live in.

      2. BMW is a German company, and labor costs there are higher than in the US.

        Foreign car mfrs are reluctant to ship cars made in Chinese factories due to public perceptions. This will eventually change, but up to now, they don’t.

        You do recall that when the US auto industry was asking for US gov’t bailouts, they cited labor costs for the lack of global competitiveness. There were lots of tables and charts showing how relative costs compared between countries.

    2. Given the degree to which robots are currently being used and the massive near-term increase planned by FoxConn, I believe that the importance and influence of low cost labor is diminishing for the manufacturing of consumer electronics. As that trend continues, there will be advantages to repatriating parts of the manufacturing chain. This is a major long term threat to China’s growth and prosperity. They need ways to employ huge numbers of unskilled/low skilled workers. My recommendation – learn to design, program, or maintain robots. But assembly? That’s probably not a good career plan since robots will assemble other robots.

      @work overseas: From which orifice did you pull your numbers? Apple could manufacture iPods in the U.S. for a lot less than $2000. Just how much manual labor do you think goes into an iPod? They don’t hand carve the cases. Thanks for playing.

    3. “sure, we can bring the work home… when you find enough people that will work for $0.80 per hour.
      if that’s not possible, find enough people that are willing to pay $2000.00 for an iPod.
      thanks for playing.”

      I’m calling Bullshit.
      Levis Strauss sells “American Made” Blue Jeans made from imported material for over $150/pair and cites US labor costs as the reason for the price. A number of companies make jeans in the US from US grown, processed, dyed and cut cotton denim for about 1/3rd the price and do so profitably.

      The German, Union Made (IG Metal), car I bought last spring cost me no more than one made by a Japanese maker here in the US with southern non-union labor or a US model made in Mexico with even lower labor costs.

      The simple fact is that the US worker is THE most productive in the world and has been for years. It amazes me that people who claim to love the US trash the very people who populate it.

  3. It is great but it would be nice if he was as concerned about his retail employees. Allowing Work Place Bullies in Apple management at retail stores is the utmost abuse. Work place bullies are hard to catch because they are devious but even harder to catch when HR protects them. Our local store has had the entire original staff “Managed Out” by a work place bully in less then a year. That is dozens of dedicated and well trained employees that were abused because of one person. THAT is right here in our backyard.

    1. Unless you are utterly dependent on that job and have no other options, I recommend that you actively press the issue up the chain of command. No one should have to work for a person who is as abusive as you allege. If that doesn’t work, then follow the lead of the others and get out. Do not subject yourself to the abuse.

      But try to get Apple to set things straight, first. You will be doing others a favor, as well.

      1. Unfortunately, I have witnessed the failed attempts of many employees trying to get justice in the Apple corporate environment. It begins with contacting HR, which in it’s own right is difficult. Inevitably the employee is pushed off and weeks go by before any real attempt is made. At that point it is usually put down as unsubstantiated or the the employee is told that it will be looked into. HR will ALWAYS side with management and you have to have a bloody body for anything to really happen and I have never seen anything positive come out of it.

        When Apple first started in retail, the stores were full of excited and dedicated employees that loved what they did. There was a definite air of an Apple Culture and the excitement was infectious. Those employees were the real evangelists and they are a large reason that Apple has been as successful as they are. Apple was thinking different, they treated the retail team as family and everyone was thrilled with the environment. Then something happened. As Steve Jobs once put it, “the Bean Counters” took over and retail became dog eat dog. A new era meant hiring hundreds of ex Gap managers who knew nothing about Apple, the technology or the culture. It became a numbers racket where employees were whipped with metrics and doing anything to raise those yearly numbers. The old lead was fantastic at what she did and she was deeply immersed in the Apple culture. She knew the technology, she knew the customers and she knew her employees. She wasn’t always easy and she worked everyone hard but she actually showed appreciation for employee’s hard work and never hesitated to pat someone on the back. It WAS family and everyone worked hard to make the store do well because of pride, not fear. Now, some stores are driven like a retail clothing store. Employees are threatened, cajoled and pushed to ever increasing sales. It’s not about the employees or the customers, it’s about the bean counters. People are given greater and greater amounts of work without any extra compensation. The store is now full of managers that know nothing of the Apple Culture and even make fun of it. If you’re a manager and you’re not willing to berate your employees then you’re days are numbered. Not all stores are like this from what I understand but I have personally experienced this and know of many others in different stores that have seen the same.

        It’s just sad to me that a company that started in a garage who lived by it’s culture and creed has become just another big box retailer. There is a reason that we are seeing more and more stories of employees protesting and threatening unions. Yes, I know, they are better then most but for a company that is worth so much you would think they could think different and value ALL their employees as well as make a profit.

        1. It’s not just in Apple retail, the above could be said about Cornell University with just substituting a few words (except employees don’t sell anything, and the berating is less severe). 10, 15 years ago, vs. today, employees are valued far less, and high productivity and dedication no longer equals a good pay raise. This new attitude and clueless poor leadership is everywhere not just retail.

          You say:
          “HR will ALWAYS side with management…”

          If you talk to HR with a complaint, you might as well be talking to a cardboard picture of an HR rep.

      2. I totally agree, you have to try to set things straight but that only works if the deck isn’t loaded against you from the start.

        If you look in Wikipedia under Work Place Bully it perfectly describes the type of person we are talking about. Apple is crazy having someone like this driving a retail store. As to following others lead, why should so many people who love their job have to leave because of one small minded bully? Apple needs to listen when dozens of people complain about one bad manager instead of sweeping it under the rug. Think different should mean valuing your employees and really taking care of them, not covering your rear. Apple once told the employees that if we take care of our employees then our customers will be taken care of, then take care of them.

    2. Who says he’s not concerned with retail employees? This is a report on Suppliers, a separate topic.

      As for work place bullies, you did say they are “hard to catch”. Perhaps you should suggest the Stores have an ombudsman for complaints.

  4. Fine. I’m in it for the money. Make me money and have all the English language courses you want, and all the dormitory remodeling you want. By all means, spend a billion. You lose one dime of my money, I do not care about any of it. Its me versus them.

    That means fkem.

  5. i guess that means the car companies should move their operations to china and really rake in the profits! although i’m guessing it costs significantly more to ship automobiles than ipods… which is prolly the only reason they aren’t made in china/india/etc.

    btw: personal responsibility aside, the fact that people take out 6 and 7 year loans tells me that cars are too expensive.

    thanks for playing.

  6. This is a brilliant move not just from a PR or human rights standpoint but from a business one. Right now Apple is the only tech company in the Computer and mobile electronics markets with the margins to be able to absorb the increase in manufacturing costs that these improvements will cause. Competitors will either have to make lower quality products at the same price or will have to charge more just to stay in business.

  7. Kind of playing devil’s advocate here but also simply stating a reality. Without these children being able to earn money at a facility like Apple’s. What do you suppose they’ll do now for work? Often times these minors are working out of need. Without the ability to earn an income what do we do for the children after the fact? I’m good with Apple setting these guidelines but, in my opinion they should probably be doing something from a humanitarian perspective as well. Thoughts?

    1. Interesting perspective, one that most probably haven’t even though of. There are many areas of the world where the children work to help sustain the family. Perhaps the emphasis should be on making it safer for them and balancing it with some education, rather than deciding for them that it just cannot be. We tend to view these situations from a western mindset, not taking into account the culture we are making demands of. Don’t mistake my comment for endorsing child slavery, mistreatment, or exploitation. I’m not for any of that. I do realize however that in many areas of the world things are different.

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