Labor advocate challenges accuracy of NYT report on Apple, Foxconn

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014


The non-profit organization Business for Social Responsibilty has published an open letter to The New York Times pointing out several inaccuracies and misleading statements in the publication's recent report that suggested Apple has ignored worker problems at manufacturing partner Foxconn.



The Times made waves last Wednesday with a profile of the "human costs" that go into the making of Apple's iPad. The report, which included quotes from former Apple executives and an anonymous consultant at BSR, alleged that the Cupertino, Calif., company was aware of and had ignored labor abuses at Foxconn factories.



Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly responded to the allegations in an email to employees that called any claims that the company doesn't care about workers "patently false and offensive."



"We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern," Cook is believed to have written.



BSR issued its own response to the article on Friday (via The Verge) by way of an open letter addressed to the publication's editors. The letter praised the Times for shining a light on "important supply chain issues," but it pointed out that several corrections the organization had sent to the publication after seeing an early version of the report had yet to be made.



"Unfortunately, the article mistakenly attributes several quotes to an unnamed “BSR consultant,” presenting a false impression that those views should be associated with BSR," wrote BSR President and CEO Aron Cramer.



According to the Times' report, the alleged consultant believed BSR "could have saved lives" if Apple had been willing to pressure Foxconn to implement better suicide counseling hotlines. The tipster claimed BSR had negotiated with Foxconn to install new hotlines but the manufacturer made last-minute demands that sunk the project.



Cramer challenged the credibility of the source, noting that "BSR does not believe that Apple has consistently disregarded its advice" about problems related to working conditions at its suppliers. He also said the Times' account of the hotline project "omits and obscures key facts," adding that there are "errors" in how the project was presented. For instance, Cramer noted that companies were actually specifically directed not to pressure suppliers throughout the project.



"BSR has provided paid advice to Apple concerning supply chain labor topics on two occasions, and in both cases, Apple has taken this advice and made efforts to act on it," Cramer wrote in a letter to the newspaper.



The executive also asked the publication to alter the article because it "misstates the views" of BSR. According to him, attributing the views of the consultant to BSR was a "serious misrepresentation" that should be changed.



"The narrative you present is an inaccurate picture of the work we have done with Apple, of the role Apple played in the worker hotline project, and of BSR’s views of Apple," Cramer wrote in his original letter to the Times.



Cramer noted on Friday that "some changes" had been made to the story as a result of his original letter, but he also pointed out that BSR believes "several important inaccuracies and misleading information remained in the story."



For its part, Apple has taken tangible steps to be more transparent about its supply chain. The company announced earlier this month that it had become the first technology company to join the Fair Labor Association. It also released for the first time a list of its suppliers.



Apple's supplier responsibility group performed 229 audits last year, an 80 percent increase from 2010, and shared the results in its annual report also published earlier this month.

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Comments

  • psych_guypsych_guy Posts: 451member
    It was a hit piece, plain and simple. Apple's earnings were through the roof and the story was waiting in the wings until after the quarterly report. Don't know who is behind a lot of these auspiciously timed "news" stories about Apple, but they always seem to hit when Apple is at a peak. Are people wanting to short the stock that badly?
  • xtrmtrkxtrmtrk Posts: 21member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Psych_guy View Post


    It was a hit piece, plain and simple. Apple's earnings were through the roof and the story was waiting in the wings until after the quarterly report. Don't know who is behind a lot of these auspiciously timed "news" stories about Apple, but they always seem to hit when Apple is at a peak. Are people wanting to short the stock that badly?



    In a word - Yes.
  • absolutedesignzabsolutedesignz Posts: 1,930member
    While I don't appreciate the blame seemingly placed squarely on Apple, this is hardly a rebuttal.
  • greginpraguegreginprague Posts: 411member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post


    While I don't appreciate the blame seemingly placed squarely on Apple, this is hardly a rebuttal.



    Why do you consider NYTs refusal to remove major inaccuracies from their hit piece on Apple (that they were made aware of prior to printing by the organization focused on worker rights and better social responsibility by businesses) to be hardly a rebuttal?



    Try at least once in a while to put some support behind your lame flame posts....
  • absolutedesignzabsolutedesignz Posts: 1,930member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post


    Why do you consider NYTs refusal to remove major inaccuracies from their hit piece on Apple (that they were made aware of prior to printing by the organization focused on worker rights and better social responsibility by businesses) to be hardly a rebuttal?



    Try at least once in a while to put some support behind your lame flame posts....



    Flame post? Who or what did I flame?



    Also I'm just saying the responses seem canned.
  • airmanchairmanairmanchairman Posts: 314member
    One sensational piece of labour news centred on Foxconn concerned the alleged threats made by one particular product team in the past week to commit mass suicide if their demands for improved pay and conditions were not met.



    As the product involved a hugely popular gaming console sadly not associated with Apple, the story has mysteriously been swept under the carpet. This particular product vendor, though well known to be a customer of Foxconn, was not even mentioned in the NYT article that named several American and global vendors associated with the Chinese manufacturer.
  • greginpraguegreginprague Posts: 411member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post


    Flame post? Who or what did I flame?



    Also I'm just saying the responses seem canned.



    Calling the valid claims leveled against the NYT which rightfully calls into question their journalistic integrity "hardly a rebuttal" is inflammatory.



    What about the response seemed canned?



    This is the whole point about why your posts are so consistently panned by AI readers. You throw out meaningless phrases without any support or explanation (laughably in your most recent post in response to being called out for throwing out phrases without any support or explanation).



    You could respond with "I think BSR's open letter to the NYT seemed canned or was hardly a rebuttal because...."
  • absolutedesignzabsolutedesignz Posts: 1,930member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post


    Calling the valid claims leveled against the NYT which rightfully calls into question their journalistic integrity "hardly a rebuttal" is inflammatory.



    What about the response seemed canned?



    This is the whole point about why your posts are so consistently panned by AI readers. You throw out meaningless phrases without any support or explanation (laughably in your most recent post in response to being called out for throwing out phrases without any support or explanation).



    You could respond with "I think BSR's open letter to the NYT seemed canned or was hardly a rebuttal because...."



    I had no intent to get into a discussion about it as my thoughts on the matter are that the complaints against Apple are bullshit.



    I'm allowed to think a canned response is hardly a rebuttal without providing a thesis paper as to why.
  • ltmpltmp Posts: 204member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post


    I had no intent to get into a discussion about it as my thoughts on the matter are that the complaints against Apple are bullshit.



    I'm allowed to think a canned response is hardly a rebuttal without providing a thesis paper as to why.



    I don't agree with your opinion, but if we called out everyone who voiced one without backing it up, we'd never have time to talk about anything



    When I read the article in the NYT, I caught several problems right away. It was sloppy and seemed to be unfairly targeting Apple.



    I seem to recall Steve Jobs (The One True CEO) saying that NYT was the worlds greatest paper, or words to that effect. I guess he wouldn't feel that way anymore.
  • greginpraguegreginprague Posts: 411member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post


    I had no intent to get into a discussion about it as my thoughts on the matter are that the complaints against Apple are bullshit.



    I'm allowed to think a canned response is hardly a rebuttal without providing a thesis paper as to why.



    Two or three sentences does not a thesis paper make.



    You're allowed to think anything you want obviously. Unsupported thoughts while common place on many discussion forums do not actually contribute to rational discussion.
  • rcoleman1rcoleman1 Posts: 153member
    Contrary to popular belief, Apple is a needed commodity in China...enough said.
  • nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by airmanchairman View Post


    One sensational piece of labour news centred on Foxconn concerned the alleged threats made by one particular product team in the past week to commit mass suicide if their demands for improved pay and conditions were not met.



    As the product involved a hugely popular gaming console sadly not associated with Apple, the story has mysteriously been swept under the carpet. This particular product vendor, though well known to be a customer of Foxconn, was not even mentioned in the NYT article that named several American and global vendors associated with the Chinese manufacturer.



    Yup... MICROSOFT ... XBOX360 ... WORKERS WERE ACTUALLY ON THE ROOF THREATENING TO JUMP OFF. Not saying Apple is perfect, but this is pertinent too.



    http://www.computerandvideogames.com...cturing-plant/



  • eideardeideard Posts: 288member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Psych_guy View Post


    It was a hit piece, plain and simple. Apple's earnings were through the roof and the story was waiting in the wings until after the quarterly report. Don't know who is behind a lot of these auspiciously timed "news" stories about Apple, but they always seem to hit when Apple is at a peak. Are people wanting to short the stock that badly?



    +1



    Plus the piece fits the anti-China ideology that is the NYT's contribution to the continuation of Cold War economics still ensconced in DC.
  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by Psych_guy View Post


    It was a hit piece, plain and simple.



    Nothing that the BSR said lets Apple off the hook. Nothing that the BSR said refutes any factual claims about working conditions.



    Their corrections are minor. They are each beside the point of the article, which point concerned working conditions at Apple's suppliers.
  • dbtincdbtinc Posts: 134member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post


    While I don't appreciate the blame seemingly placed squarely on Apple, this is hardly a rebuttal.



    Ya know, somehow I don't seem to have much sympathy for the brutalized chinese worker. Once again - interventionalism at work here. If the workers in the worker's paradise are being abused let them deal with it but in the meantime and since they've stolen our jobs, I plan to take full advantage. As the old saw goes "get while the getting's good."
  • charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,069member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by airmanchairman View Post


    One sensational piece of labour news centred on Foxconn concerned the alleged threats made by one particular product team in the past week to commit mass suicide if their demands for improved pay and conditions were not met.



    Indeed. That incident involved more folks than the number of alleged "apple product" employees that actually jumped and yet where it is the mention of said incident or company in the article.



    Where's the mentions of the cultural issues and how the Chinese government needs to step up.



    Steve Jobs supposedly said something about how it's not Apple's responsibility to cure all the woes of this country (other major companies and the government need to step up also). Same in China.
  • greginpraguegreginprague Posts: 411member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post


    Nothing that the BSR said lets Apple off the hook. Nothing that the BSR said refutes any factual claims about working conditions.



    Their corrections are minor. They are each beside the point of the article, which point concerned working conditions at Apple's suppliers.



    You presume that Apple needs to be let off a hook which I think a lot of people would disagree with. I think Apple is doing the right thing. If they left China all together then the workers would actually be much worse off. You can't change the world in a day. I'd say they've taken a route that is kind of like union contracts (though in America the unions are useless, worse than evil, and a significant reason why all the jobs left) each time a contract is up as you negotiate the next one you ask for something more. I believe the records show that Apple is following such a path to improve labor and environmental conditions at its suppliers.



    I don't think anyone would claim that Apple is doing charity work or somehow are making sacrifices for those workers, but they are trying to ensure that there isn't child labor and that salary and work conditions continue to improve.



    Everyone who is calling out "slave labor" in response to these NYT articles obviously doesn't know what slave labor actually was/is.



    By the way, is a Zither Zather Zuzz a sibling of Dr. Suess's Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz?
  • wovelwovel Posts: 953member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post


    While I don't appreciate the blame seemingly placed squarely on Apple, this is hardly a rebuttal.



    When their major source said it trie to privately correct the inaccurate major assumption of the stry, what would you call it? As is all too common for NYT lately, they simply disregarded te facts. You are mr likely to get ethical journalism from any random blog.
  • wovelwovel Posts: 953member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post


    Nothing that the BSR said lets Apple off the hook. Nothing that the BSR said refutes any factual claims about working conditions.



    Their corrections are minor. They are each beside the point of the article, which point concerned working conditions at Apple's suppliers.



    The major assertion of h NYT article ws not the conditions, that is not even knew. The assertion was that Apple did not car and ignored their advisors. BSR clearly disputes both those points and did so before NYT editors decide clicks bet journalism.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Psych_guy View Post


    It was a hit piece, plain and simple. Apple's earnings were through the roof and the story was waiting in the wings until after the quarterly report. Don't know who is behind a lot of these auspiciously timed "news" stories about Apple, but they always seem to hit when Apple is at a peak. Are people wanting to short the stock that badly?



    The timing wouldn't have shorted the stock because the news of their earnings caused it to jump. IF that was there intention then they would have released it on a day when the stock was naturally down to make it drop even further. I think the timing was more likely set to ride the increased mindshare into more page hits and ad clicks from either a negative or positive earnings release.
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