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Posts Tagged ‘workers’

It’s a presidential election year and by all counts the race is close. There is no question the post-recession recovery has been anemic at best. To call it a recovery is a stretch and the threat of a double-dip recession lingers. Whether anyone can really turn this lackluster economy around is anyone’s guess. Talk of the unsustainable $16T deficits looms large but specifics on job creation remain few.

It’s not just abstract conversation for the nation’s unemployed and underemployed.

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The secret is out: Apple has a worm inching its way through its corporate flesh. January was a tough month on the Cupertino, California company venerated for its innovation and vision.

The controversy emerged when an Apple contractor in China, a manufacturing facility known as Foxconn where many brand-name electronics are assembled largely by hand, made headlines when dozens of workers threatened to jump to their deaths over a labor dispute. Foxconn’s solution? Erect netting beneath roofs and windows.

It doesn’t end there. For 12-hour shifts, six-days-per week and a live-in lifestyle workers allegedly earn just $17, the New York Times reports. Forbes and PC Magazine added their own angle to the news. One such detail described a high-level manager who, at a Chinese zoo, asked a zookeeper to provide advice on how to deal with his workers, drawing a direct comparison between factory workers and undomesticated animals. It gets worse. A NYT piece, “In China, Human Costs are Built into iPad“, refers to two dozen accidental worker deaths that have occurred as a result of unsafe working conditions. Finally, in “This American Life” the narrator of “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” recounts a first-hand meetup with underage Chinese workers, among scores of others who suffer permanent neurological tremors and ticks as a consequence of over-exposure to a chemical toxin.

For all the outrage, many argue such are the inescapable growing pains of a Third World labor force “coming up”. At one time, the United States, too, was known for worker exploitation, a chief reason child labor laws gained traction and unions became a bulwark against corrupt and abusive management practices. And yet, even at the height of the union movement in the US such organizations represented only a fraction of the workforce. Nonetheless, what began as labor negotiating with management to build a viable American middle class has transformed in recent decades to its polar opposite: a perception that unions destroy American prosperity.

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The Man Who Foretold Our Economic Fate

Giving credit where credibility is due.

Charlie Rose:

How do you see the economy today? The world economy? Where are we?

Answer:

I think the financial system is extremely fragile. I think that you can see it in the volatility of currencies; you can see all sorts of weaknesses. I believe that there is an incredible amount of danger in things like the derivatives. I think that we are moving toward the outer limits of acceptable risk taking. … I think our financial system is dangerous and could create great problems for the real economy. …

Sir James Michael Goldsmith, billionaire financier, 1994; February 26, 1933 – July 18, 1997

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