Groups to protest at Apple Store Fifth Avenue over claimed ‘worker poisoning’ in Chinese factories

Just three days before International Workers’ Memorial Day, honoring workers around the world who have died as a result of their jobs, two groups — Green America and China Labor Watch (CLW) — will hold a demonstration at the Apple Store Fifth Avenue in New York City to protest “worker poisoning” in the factories that supply Apple’s iPhones and iPads. The event will take place at 12:30pm EDT. on April 25, 2014.

The planned protest stems from the “Bad Apple Campaign,” launched jointly by Green America and CLW on March 12, 2014. To date, the campaign has collected nearly seventeen thousand signatures urging Apple’s CEO Tim Cook to remove dangerous chemicals in an effort to protect the young Chinese workers who manufacture Apple’s products.

The protests’ location at Apple’s Apple Store Fifth Avenue, with it’s iconic glass cube entrance near Central Park, is significant in that the store is one of Apple’s most profitable retail locations, grossing more than $350 million per year. Industry experts estimate that Apple could remove benzene and other dangerous chemicals from production for as little as $1 dollar per device.

Smartphones and other electronics are made with thousands of chemicals, many of which are known to be harmful to human health such as benzene or n-hexane. Occupational exposure to benzene can lead to leukemia. Green America and China Labor Watch claim that Apple is profiting at the expense of the workers who assemble their iconic products in China, even though safer chemical alternatives are available. The campaign is calling on Apple to lead the way in protecting worker health and safety.

In April 2012, the groups remind, Greenpeace hosted an action at this store to call attention to Apple’s wasteful energy practices. As a result, one year later, Apple announced a plan to use 100% renewable energy at its data centers.

Sources: Green America, China Labor Watch

21 Comments

        1. More importantly, Apple does not own or even manage any of plants that had issues, and yet Apple is blamed with headline “reports” in NYT about this.

          Samsung owns plants with tens, probably hundreds people dead due to all kinds of cancers and poisoning, and this never goes to NYT headlines.

      1. If you’re not a let-them-eat-poison monster, but a human being who has empathy, you should know that activists are wise to pressure the dominant company to make changes. Apple has the power to force those factories to make conditions safer for the workers. Dell has no such power.
        I think Apple has done more than most similar companies. That’s no reason not to push them to do more – Apple is the company with the power to make positive change happen. They need to be able to sell changes to shareholders, and pressure from activists is a way to do that: “Look, all you soulless money-is-all-that-matters shareholders – we have to do something or these activists will hurt our reputation.” It’s like FDR said: “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”
        So, if you think Apple is run by decent people, you should support protests that give them the excuse to do the right thing.

        1. “you should know that activists are wise to pressure the dominant company to make changes”

          No, they are not. Even as someone who supports MASSIVELY stronger regulations against poisons in our environment, I feel nothing for these people but irritation for their singling out Apple.

        2. One word: Overkill.

          Go cry ‘wolf’ somewhere else on occasion please. We’ve gone deaf from it over here. It’s called ‘diminishing returns on rant investment’. Or: Never bash your allies. Encouragement is FAR more encouraging than slapping festivals. Kind of DUH.

        3. I agree completely. I love Apple and know Apple’s integrity. I don’t know the particulars in this case but can find some empathy for families whose workers have potentially DIED to assemble this phone I’m using. If indeed that’s the case, I don’t want anyone hurt making gadgets, for fuck’s sake — especially ones I love — don’t want that poison in my phone, and don’t want that harm on the collective conscience of this incredible company. So I say, bring this to our attention and let Apple again show us it has integrity where others don’t to make positive influence the bastards at Samsung wouldn’t bother with. There’s profit enough to be called on mistakes and in turn to do the right thing.

  1. Meantime, my dreams have crossed with reality as the operating system with the most gadgets per person but not the highest gross margins seems to be overlooked by these self proclaimed watchmen who ignore the volume of products powered by android manufactured by the same entities that manufacture for Apple inc.

    Green America? China Labor Watch? What a misnomer?

    Zzzzzzzzzzz, Snorrrrrrr, half a sleep bloggingzzzzzz, Snorrrrrrr.

  2. n-hexane: ah yes, the molecule popularised by ABC in 2010 and Mike Daisey in 2012, a health risk in Asian factories used by APPLE!

    One would have presumed that APPLE would have done something about that after all this time.

    Is this a case of continued criminal negligence by an uncaring tech giant?

    Or is it a case of opportunistic publicity seeking, perhaps subsidised by a competitor?

    1. n-hexane is also used directly by the food industry as a solvent to extract cooking oil from corn and seeds… pretty much for all our frying oil..
      but hey facts and news don’t mix

  3. Bizarre.
    Also bizarre it is that people support homosexuals as they campaign to ‘marry’ their pets/sisters/parents/toasters while ignoring the BILLION people suffering real abuse at the hands of a totalitarian communistic system.
    Please, give them both one star.

  4. I am quite surprised that Apple is still facing protests about the use of these chemicals.

    In fact I would be surprised if these chemicals are being used at all. If they are, then they are being used in violation of Apple’s Supplier Responsibility code.

    It seems these Chinese suppliers just simply ignore Apple in the name of profits.

    Apple has required suppliers not to use n-hexane since 2011.

    Click to access Apple_SR_2011_Progress_Report.pdf

    From Page 20.

    “For all chemicals in the workplace, Apple’s Code requires adequate ventilation systems, proper handling and disposal, and robust processes for risk assessments, training, and emergency response.
    In 2010, we learned that 137 workers at the Suzhou facility of Wintek, one
    of Apple’s suppliers, had suffered adverse health e∂ects following exposure to n-hexane, a chemical in cleaning agents used in some manufacturing processes. We discovered that the factory had reconfigured operations without also changing their ventilation system. Apple considered this series of incidents to be a core violation for worker endangerment.
    We required Wintek to stop using n-hexane and to provide evidence that they had removed the chemical from their production lines. In addition, Apple required them to fix their ventilation system. Since these changes, no new workers have su∂ered diffculties from chemical exposure.
    To prevent future incidents at this facility, we required Wintek to work with a consultant to improve their Environmental Health and Safety processes and management systems. We are monitoring the implementation of these corrective actions and preventive measures, and will conduct a complete reaudit of the facility in 2011.
    In parallel, Apple has verified that all affected workers have been treated successfully, and we continue to monitor their medical reports until full recuperation. Following China law, Wintek has paid medical treatment, meals, and foregone wages for sick or recuperating workers. A majority of the
    137 workers have returned to employment at the same factory.
    We are aware of another reported incident involving n-hexane. Apple learned that a logo supplier and its subcontractor were using the chemical. When we investigated, we found that the subcontractor had been shut down by local officials. We audited the logo supplier and verified that n-hexane was no longer in use. However, we found poor management systems for Environmental Health and Safety, and we are working with the facility to expedite corrections. We are also following up on the health of workers who were exposed to n-hexane at this facility.”

    Sounds like Apple is once again being held responsible for violations of other tech manufacturers using the same Chinese suppliers.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.