updated 04:50 pm EST, Thu February 16, 2012
Accuses FLA of incentives to approve Foxconn
Activist group SumOfUs has issued a statement criticizing the president of the Fair Labor Association, Auret van Heerden, for initially approving of Foxconn factory conditions. Even though the FLA is just beginning its study, based on early tours, van Heerden has already claimed that Foxconn plants are "first-class" with conditions "way, way above average of the norm." A finished FLA report is only due in early March.
"It is inappropriate in the extreme for the FLA to be making any statements whatsoever this early in an allegedly independent investigation," reads a prepared quote by Taren Stinkebrickner-Kauffman, SumOfUs' executive director. "So far all they've done is have a guided tour of the premises by Foxconn executives -- what exactly were they expecting, that the company would voluntarily show them the dark underbelly of the factory life on the first day?"
"The FLA is funded and controlled by the same companies it is supposed to be monitoring," Stinebrickner-Kauffman alleges. "Moreover, most of the so-called 'monitoring' conducted by the FLA is actually outsourced to for-profit firms -- and all of their incentives line up to provide a clean bill of health to factories."
SumOfUs is perhaps best known for participating in a petition that was delivered to Apple Stores around the world, asking for Apple to help improve labor conditions at its suppliers. The group says it is now up to over 78,000 signatures, with the goal of making the next-generation iPhone "the first 'ethical iPhone'." A so-called "distributed" petition delivery campaign is scheduled for next week, in which SumOfUs members will carry petitions to managers at local iPhone vendors.