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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Buying your iPhone at Walmart = bad karma ²

From: Google Maps

"The battle going on at the Walmart center in Mira Loma [California] is an exemplary case of the chess match between capital and labor, as long as you realize labor is starting the game with virtually no pieces. On one side, Walmart’s center is run by Schneider National, a $3.7 billion logistics giant that provides services to two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies. Schneider in turn subcontracts for workers to Rogers Premier, one of more than 400 temp agencies in the area. The workers are 'permanent temps' as they may toil on the same site for years. Walmart uses the layers of subcontracting to insulate itself from legal and ethical liability for the inevitable abuses in the low-wage warehouse industry.
     In an open letter to the Occupy movement, workers employed by Rogers in a Schneider-run warehouse handling Walmart’s goods told of 'working up to 72 hours straight [and] not receiving even minimum wage after working 16 hour days consistently for years.' On Oct. 17 six workers initiated a class-action lawsuit against Schneider, Rogers and others for 'systematic wage theft' by deliberately underpaying them and denying overtime. The state of California was investigating the warehouses at the time and hit Rogers with a fine of more than $600,000 for labor law violations.
     A few days after the workers filed suit, Schneider dumped Rogers and dropped the ax on more than 100 warehouse workers. The firings were set for Feb. 24, but a federal judge blocked them because she found it was likely they violated 'anti-retaliation law.'”
— Arun Gupta and Michelle Fawcett, Salon
From: Google Maps

" [...] the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.
     Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.
     More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.
     'If Apple was warned, and didn’t act, that’s reprehensible,' said Nicholas Ashford, a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a group that advises the United States Labor Department. 'But what’s morally repugnant in one country is accepted business practices in another, and companies take advantage of that.'”
— Charles Duhigg and David Barboza, The New York Times

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