Foxconn Labor Protests: Put Up or Shut Up

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Seems like some folks in the U.S. are troubled by the situation at Foxconn, the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer whose staff have the nasty habit of plunging off buildings to their deaths.

Here’s the latest progressive association brainchild:

Thursday June 17, at 5.45pm to 7.00 pm there will be a vigil at Apple’s very first Apple Store, 1 Stockton Street (@ Market Street) to remember the dead workers at Foxconn, Apple’s supplier of iPads and iPhones.

There will be a photo opportunity: “Protestors will have candles and have life size “Deathpads” with workers profile and campaign information.”

{audible groan}

I’ve written ad nauseum about the Foxconn situation and what should be done to fix the problem. Holding night time “vigils” for the fallen is a big waste of time that will do nothing except make the participants feel better about themselves, and perhaps get someone on television holding a “deathpad.” {another audible groan}

The folks behind this particular stunt are the Chinese Progressive Association, which I’m sure is chock full of well-intentioned people who are lucky enough to live in the Bay Area. Here’s part of their press release:

Apple computer’s “Deathpad” has brought huge profits to Apple at the expense of workers lives.

Chinese Progressive Association calls on Apple and Foxconn to take responsibility for the workers and to find real solutions to the extreme pressure and deplorable working conditions in the factory. We urge Apple to work with Foxconn and ensure that workers are being treated fairly.

I find the “deathpad” thing laughable, or perhaps simply amateurish. Conservatives like Rush Limbaugh make up cute names to denigrate the opposition. Progressives are supposed to be smarter than that and above cheap melodrama. But I’m not going after this one group — my comments are for any and all protests against Apple.

If progressives want to make an impact, they need to stop buying iCrap. My guess is that they won’t, because iCrap is too cool. Even that homeless guy weaving his way down Market Street, the stinky dude who looks like he doesn’t have two pennies to rub together — that guy probably has an iPhone in his back pocket.

Protests and vigils and other types of demonstrations are nice, and they give you a warm and fuzzy feeling in your tummy, but hitting Apple in the pocketbook is real activism. Until iPad sales take a hit, I will remain unimpressed by all this self-important running around.

By the way, pre-launch orders for the new iPhone 4G have been so successful that Apple can’t keep up with demand.

Time to put up or shut up, kids.

3 responses on “Foxconn Labor Protests: Put Up or Shut Up

  1. LTW

    So do you think people will just magically stop buying Apple product because everyone knows about what’s happening in Foxconn? Or is holding a vigil to raise awareness about what’s going on the logical precursor to mass consumer action. Please keep the patronizing dismissal of the action to yourself and actually do something constructive.

    1. Stan Post author

      I see no evidence that this event is a precursor to any mass boycott. If you are satisfied with “feel good” meetings that have no impact, then go right ahead.

  2. Hsiaoshuang

    I think every single individual’s protest effort counts, even though it may be only a pinprick on the hide of dinosaurs like Apple and Foxconn. I along may not do much but I’m trying my best — via Facebook and sending email messages to friends and contacts — to continue creating awareness about predators like Steve Job and his irk.