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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Apple Consumers Protest Factory Conditions, Demand "Ethical iPhone"

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM

click to enlarge Change.org petitioners call for an "ethical iPhone" at S.F. Apple store. -  JOSH LOWENSOHN, CNET

Concerned Apple customers will be descending on the downtown Apple store today, where they will deliver petitions from local consumers demanding for a more "ethical iPhone."

iPhone activists across the nation have been criticizing Apple for its "appalling" working conditions in factories overseas, including death from explosions and maiming.

San Francisco's effort is part of a larger, national movement to pressure Apple and its suppliers for safer, healthier working conditions offshore. To show they are serious, consumers are delivering more than 255,000 signatures to major Apple retail stores across the nation.

Mark Shields, an ethical iPhone activist from Washington, D.C., launched his own petitions two months ago, hoping to stop Apple from promoting austere working conditions, particularly with the iPhone 5, which is reportedly launching in the next few months.

"At Foxconn, one of Apple's biggest manufacturers, there is a history of suicides, abusive working conditions, and almost no pay. These working conditions are appalling, especially for Apple," Shields said.

click to enlarge More than 255,000 signatures were delivered to the S.F. Apple store to petition Chinese factory conditions. -  BILL DEROUCHEY, TWITTER
  • Bill DeRouchey, Twitter
  • More than 255,000 signatures were delivered to the S.F. Apple store to petition Chinese factory conditions.

The surge of reported suicide attempts prompted Apple to install precautionary netting in workers' dormitories last year. Apple cracked down on underage labor and working conditions in its factories last year, and was sympathetic toward the four lives lost in two iPad factory explosions. Apple says it now caps working hours at factories to 60 per week, and requires at least one day of rest during a seven-day work week .

Still,  Apple consumers who feel betrayed by the company that they always believed to be humane are faced with an unexpected dilemma: Continue buying beloved Apple products, or boycott their gadgets in the name of  better working conditions.

"As a Mac user for 17 years, this is the first issue that could make me stop buying from Apple," James Seale said on the petition, which is being hosted at Change.org.

Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF, follow Erin Browner @eringobro

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