Foxconn Industrial Plant Uncovered

the consequences of materialism

Foxconn and the Daisy Affair-


The workers at the Foxconn Industrial Plant, specifically located in Shenzhen, China. The Foxconn Plant is the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer, manufacturing over half of the worlds technological devices, most notably Apple Inc. products and Dell.
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"The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" is an off-broadway monologue that Mike Daisey began performing in January 2011 on the show "This American Life". This show casts a harsh light onto the working conditions. All of these experiences were presented as a description of what Mike Daisey had witnessed first hand during his visit in May and June of 2010. Although he's not a "journalist", "This American Life" made it clear to him that he would have to live up to journalistic standards when presenting facts, yet he failed to meet this expectation.

controversy of the facts-

The facts that Daisey brought forth have been corroborated by independent investigations by other journalists, studies by advocacy groups, and much of it has been corroborated by Aplle inc. itself in its own audit reports. Therefore, it was not the fact that Mike included all of these facts, but it is what he said about his own trip that was not necessarily truthful (Apple and the Daisy Affair-CNN Money).

The controversy was aroused because of the Chinese correspondent for the public radio program marketplace, Rob Schmitz, who resides in Shanghai, and heard the story and questioned it.

Beginning the tangle of lies-

At the time that the show,"This American Life", was factchecking Mike Daisey's story, he was asked to bring forth the contact for the interpreter that he used when he was visiting China, who he called Cathy. The show simply wanted confirmation that all the incidents that he described had in fact taken place. However, when the contact was asked by the show, Daisey said her real name wasn't Cathy, it was Anna and that he had her cell phone number but when he tried to call it, it didn't work anymore. ("This American Life" Podcast) Because of all of the facts provided the case was dropped and nobody had reason to further try and reach the translator...which led to the fabrication of the facts...

Lies/ Fabrication of Evidence-

-Daisy reports hostile guards holding guns at gates of plant (Rob Schmitz then reports , "I’ve done reporting at a lot of Chinese factories, and I’ve never seen guards with guns. The only people allowed to have guns in China are the military and the police…not factory guards" (This American Life). In fact, it is illegal for security guards to carry guns!

-Daisey meets with factory workers who he says belong to an illegal union, one

that’s not authorized by the Chinese government.

[CLIP] Mike Daisey: And I say to them, how do you know who's right to work

with you? How do you find people to help you organize? And they look at each

other bashfully, and they say well, we talk a lot. We have lots of meetings, and we

meet at coffeehouses and different Starbucks in Guangzhou. And we exchange

papers…("This American Life"). Rob Schmitz rebutes this statement and says, "Factory workers who make fifteen, twenty dollars a day are sipping coffee at Starbucks? Starbucks is pricier in China than in the US. A reporter friend of mine didn’t believe this,either. He said Chinese factory workers gathering at Starbucks is sort of like United Auto Workers in Detroit holding their meetings at a Chinese teahouse".

Facts partially true-

-[CLIP] Mike Daisey: There's a group that's talking about hexane. N-hexane is an

iPhone screen cleaner. It's great because it evaporates a little bit faster than

alcohol does, which means you can run the production line even faster and try to

keep up with the quotas. The problem is that n-hexane is a potent neurotoxin, and

all these people have been exposed. Their hands shake uncontrollably. Most of

them…can't even pick up a glass. ("This American Life"). In actuality, Cathy, the chinese translator said that when they spoke to the people she never once had anyone mention hexane and thought it was ridiculous when reporters told her of the fabricated story Daisy made up about n-Hexane. Yet, it was reported in 2008 that workers at an Apple supplier had contracted the poisonous chemical and it was a widespread sensation over the news. Yet, this incident occurred in Suzhou not Shenzhen.

-Fabrication of the underage workers:

[CLIP] Mike Daisey: And I say to her, you seem kind of young. How old are you?

And she says, I'm 13. And I say, 13? That's young. Is it hard to get work at

Foxconn when you're-- and she says oh no. And her friends all agree, they don't

really check ages. I'm telling you … in my first two hours of my first day at that

gate, I met workers who were 14 years old, 13 years old, 12. Do you really think

Apple doesn't know? ("This American Life"). When they spoke to the translator Cathy about this fact she said that she would have remembered the experience as it is rare to see such young children with Apple's aggressive documentation, yet it still does occur.

The role of ethos in this monologue-

Climax of story-

Daisey describes an old man with leathery skin who used to work at foxconn … makingmetal enclosures for ipads and laptops. … he says the man got his hand caught in a metalpress, and that it was now a twisted claw. He says he got no medical attention, and then Foxconn fired him for working too slowly:

[CLIP] Mike Daisey: And when he says this, I reach into my satchel, and I take

out my iPad. And when he sees it, his eyes widen, because one of the ultimate

ironies of globalism, at this point there are no iPads in China. …. He's never

actually seen one on, this thing that took his hand. I turn it on, unlock the screen,

and pass it to him. He takes it. The icons flare into view, and he strokes the screen

with his ruined hand, and the icons slide back and forth. And he says something to

Cathy, and Cathy says, "he says it's a kind of magic." ("This American Life"). However, Cathy says this never happened and it sounds like it should be in a movie. Mike Daisy was simply trying to appeal to the audiences emotions instead of focusing on the facts.


What happened to the whistleblower?-

Thanks to follow-up reporting by Rob Schmitz at American Public Media's Marketplace, the monologue has been reported as a piece of theater. Daisey pretended that he just happened to stumble upon an array of workers who typify all kinds of harsh things somebody might face in a factory that makes iPhones and iPads. It is now apparent to the media that Mike Daisey fabricated this story to further the idea of working condition improvements in chinese industrial plants. "The American Life" retracted their story on Foxconn Industries.

What happened to the company or organization as a result of the whistleblower coming forward?-

Foxconn industries is not quite "off- the-hook". The Hong-Kong based China Labor Bulletin said Foxconn still employed harsh working conditions, while a fund manager with shares in Foxconn's parent said investors were watching how the company treats workers. The plant now recognizes that workers need a more effective voice on factory floor to be kept away from employee strikes over working conditions

-more union rights

-decreased amount of hours that laborers are allowed to work due to injuries

-U.S. non-profit labor group had begun an "unprecedented" inspection of working conditions at its main contract manufacturers
-New York Times published an investigation into working practices at Apple supplier's plants in China that documented poor health and safety conditions and long working hours

-Apple has been having investigations and has provided financially for improvement of worker conditions (It has been recently exposed that many workers live at the factory, where they pay $17.50 per month to live in a 7 to a room in dormitories. The average starting pay is $285 per month, and workers must pay for their own food (huffingtonpost)).

What changes came about due to this whistle blowing?-

-Employees get the chance to vote for representatives free form management influence, and top officials would be elected by a secret ballot.

-upgraded its management

-work managers

-safety precautions in production facilities

-Apple inspections

-awareness in working conditions and increased charity to workers at plant

-nets installed between buildings to prevent suicides

-increased wages!

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Personal Reaction to story-

When I first read about the facts that Mike Daisey revealed I was abhorred at the conditions of these laborers. I thought , "what an atrocity to humankind!". However, when the article later revealed that Mike Daisey wrote such a fabricated story, I was very frustrated. People should not lie about such a condition if it is not true. After researching I discovered that while Daisey's story was fabricated, much of it was true which then made me rally in protest. I am glad that new initiatives are being placed on the working conditions and am very happy to see an increase in wages. I cannot even handle the prospect of people committing suicide over work. That is so sad that people even think that life might be better if they did not have to work. I understand that Apple and Foxconn have recently passed a contract to raise wages of the employees, yet at the same time I think that with all the money they have, they should provide large monetary donations to the Industry for the workers. Not only is this a story about the horrid labor conditions at Foxconn Industries, but it is truly an eye opener. Americans need to stop being consumed in our own consumerist mentality. We need to rise above our wants to truly embark on a path for change.
Inside Apple: Changes Made at Foxconn