by Alexia Tsotsis
June 18th, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO - A crowd of at least 100 people gathered outside the Union Square Apple store yesterday evening for what may be the first large-scale American protest of Foxxconn, a Chinese factory that produces iPads and iPhones.
As SF Citizen reports, the vigil was organized by San Francisco's Chinese Progressive Association to draw further attention to the problematic working conditions at the Foxxconn factory in Shensen, where 10 workers have committed suicide and another reportedly died of extreme exhaustion after working a 34-hour shift.
Apple has been the subject of worldwide criticism since the spate of deaths at Foxxconn, as some attribute the worker suicides to the high pressure conditions surrounding production of the iPad. From the CPA press release about the gathering:
"Apple Computer's "Deathpad" has brought huge profits to Apple at the expense of workers' lives."
Despite labor activist complaints about long hours and poor employee morale, Steve Jobs remarked, "for a factory it's pretty nice," when asked about the Foxxconn issues at the All Things D conference earlier this month.
In contrast, yesterday's demonstrators held up signs reading things like "Show us you care Apple," "iWant to iPad but at what cost," and the simple but effective "Deathpad." Participants were also encouraged to e-mail Steve Jobs with entreaties to improve worker conditions.
Under increased pressure, Foxxconn has already raised wages for workers by 30 percent. However the exact reasons for the suicides are still unclear; "It's a difficult situation," Jobs himself admitted after having defended the factory. "We're trying to understand right now, before we go in and say we know the solution."