Monday, June 14, 2010


Stand with Chinese workers making Apple iPhones

Dear Toby Miller,

As Apple releases the new iPhone 4G, Chinese activists are mourning the deaths of 11 workers who made Apple iPhones and iPods, and are taking to the streets to demand Apple stop the conditions at its supplier factory that led to the deaths: the extreme long hours, poverty wages, humiliation by managers and denial of independent union representation. Apple CEO Steve Jobs refuses to take responsibility, saying last week, "for a factory, it's pretty nice". Take action and forward this message!

Send a letter to the following decision maker(s):
Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Below is the sample letter:

Subject: Apple must stop Foxconn's worker abuses

Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

I am deeply troubled with Apple's lack of concern for the Foxconn workers who have contributed to the growth and success of your company.

According to independent labor rights organizations, 13 Foxconn workers have now attempted suicide and 1 has died from exhaustion. We are especially concerned that you have dismissed these workers' suicides as "normal" in China, as all those who attempted suicide were young migrant workers between 18 and 24 years old, manufacturing your company's products while working up to 36 hours at a time without overtime pay, being paid poverty wages, and denied democratic union representation.

As students who purchase Apple products, we demand that you, CEO of one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world, forge the path for responsible corporate development by calling for an exhaustive independent investigation into Apple's purchasing practices, the payment of living wages, legal working hours, and democratic union elections in Foxconn supplier factories to ensure that workers voices are heard and that they manufacture your products with dignity and respect.


Toby Miller

Apple Director of Supplier Social Responsibility Robert Bainbridge
Apple Executives
Foxconn Executives

Take Action!
Click here to take action on this issue

Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this, or simply forward this message.

What's At Stake:
At Foxconn, a major manufacturer of Apple's iPhone, iMac, iPad and iPod touch, a disturbing wave of suicides recently caught the media's attention. But Apple has been on notice for 5 years as the target of a campaign by USAS' Hong Kong partner Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM). Despite persistent attempts by SACOM to get Apple to stop the abuses at Foxconn, Apple CEO Steve Jobs outrightly denied the problem until just days ago. As recently as June 2, Jobs denied the factory was a sweatshop and dismissed the suicides as insignificant. Since January, 13 young workers at Apple's supplier factory in Shenzhen, China have committed suicide, and just a few days ago, a young worker died from exhaustion. The cause? Working as long as 36 hours nonstop without overtime pay, earning poverty wages, facing humiliation by company managers and being denied independent union representation. While the economic crisis has pushed hundreds of electronics suppliers out of business, Apple has enjoyed record profits on the backs of its young Chinese workers. Under the direct pressure of Apple and other buyers, its supplier Foxconn has not been paying production line workers at its Shenzhen plant enough to even meet basic needs, compelling workers to labor up to 100 hours of overtime a month, close to three times the maximum 36 hours permitted by Chinese labor law. Furthermore, Foxconn, responding to heavy public scrutiny, recently manipulated consumers to believe that it raised the wages of its workers out of its own benevolence, although it was actually in light of an anticipated raise in the government's minimum wage. This week, Apple released its newest edition of the iPhone, selling for $200 a piece, but this price doesn't include the short lives of those lost who were being paid pennies per phone. We call on Apple to mandate that Foxconn to raise the unit price of their orders to reflect the true cost of labor, to hold democratic union elections, and to halt production for the month of June so that Apple and Foxconn review the company's management method that has resulted in such tragedies. In order to demonstrate to Apple and Foxconn that students, one of its target markets, will not stand for sweatshop abuse, United Students Against Sweatshops is asking all its supporters to send a message to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Campaign Expiration Date:
July 15, 2011

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010


JUNE 7, 2010, 12:14 PM
New York State Cracks Down on E-Waste

Stuart Isett for The New York Times Aluminum scrap from old computers, television sets and other electronics.
There’s a far better place than the trash bin for your old computer monitor. Like plenty of other electronics items, it may contain toxic substances like lead, mercury and cadmium that are hazardous to the environment and human health if mismanaged.

Starting next spring, consumers in New York State should find the disposal process a bit easier. Under a new law governing electronic waste, manufacturers across the state must offer free programs enabling people to drop off their items for proper recycling or reuse.

The collection programs will be required starting April 11; after that, manufacturers will not be allowed to dispose of electronic waste at landfills. Starting Jan. 15, 2015, consumers will also be prohibited from throwing out e-waste in their garbage or dumping it at a landfill.

Based on each manufacturer’s market share of electronic sales in New York, the state will mandate that each company recycle or reuse a certain amount of electronic waste each year.

Those who collect more waste than required can bank, trade or sell “recycling credits” for the excess waste they collect. Those who do not collect their share will face fines that will go toward state-run recycling programs.

The state law is more stringent than an electronic waste law approved in New York City in 2008; while the city’s version requires manufacturers to offer collection programs, it does not require them to recycle a certain percentage of what they sell.

The City Council voted to include such a requirement, but Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg refused to sign it, saying it could penalize manufacturers for the failure of consumers to recycle.

The new state law covers electronics like television sets, computers, printers, keyboards and DVD and MP3 players, but excludes items like refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers and microwaves.

New York is the 23rd state to pass an e-waste law. Maine was the first, in 2006. Until New York acted, South Carolina was the most recent to approve one, in a vote in early May.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Appeal by concerned international scholars:
Create humane labor standards at Foxconn
and end “stealth manufacturing” in Information Technology!--sign on via

June 8, 2010

The tragic series of suicides among young workers of the “Foxconn City” factory compound in Shenzhen, China, has alarmed the world. Until now, only few people knew that this is the largest electronics factory in the world, employing more than 300,000 workers. The factory is run by a large multinational company from Taiwan, Foxconn (a subsidiary of Hon Hai group), which is one of the largest electronics manufacturing companies in the world. It produces for the most famous brand names in the global IT industry such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Nokia or Sony. Since contract manufacturers like Foxconn and their global customers try to keep their manufacturing operations hidden, this system has correctly been labelled “stealth manufacturing”.

Most of the workers in electronics contract manufacturing and its preferred “low-cost locations” in China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, Hungary and other countries in Eastern Europe earn wages below the prevailing national standards. They work in clean and modern factories, but their work is reminiscent of the assembly lines of the early ages of mass production. The workforce of the new factories is made up of rural migrants, most of them women. As global contract manufacturing has grown, labor standards have collapsed and trade unions have been marginalized.

In reaction to the tragic events at Foxconn, a group of nine Chinese sociologists from leading universities in the country have taken the unusual step of issuing a collective appeal. According to their opinion, the crisis at Foxconn reveals deep-ranging problems in China’s current model of economic development, based on low wages, long working hours, and discrimination against rural migrant workers. They challenge the factory regime at Foxconn and call on the Chinese national and local government and the concerned enterprises to allow migrant workers to become “true citizens of the enterprise”.

From an international point of view, we have to call for rigorous action from multiple parties to establish labor standards, occupational and environmental health, and workers’ dignity in manufacturing world-wide, particularly in supplier manufacturing factories. The noted British business journal The Economist is aptly stating that “a firm and an industry that has become accustomed to obscurity will have to get used to the limelight” (May 29, 2010).

Changes in the labor policies of the contract manufacturing sector must be based on a comprehensive effort to restore transparency and public scrutiny over the contract relations between brand name and contract manufacturing companies. Meticulous attention needs to be devoted to labor, health and environmental standards, as well as to democratic participation of workers at the workplace. The so-called “Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC)” – a code of conduct and mechanism of consultation established by major IT companies – has failed completely to secure basic standards of work, environmental justice and social responsibility throughout the electronics industry and its “supply chains”.

Workers must have a right to:
Representation and collective bargaining by trade unions to defend their interests and rights.
Information about, and protection from, hazardous materials used in manufacturing.
Guarantees of working hours and work intensity that will not threaten physical or mental health.

Communities, government agencies, and the public have a right to know:
What are the working conditions in contract factories and whether the basic rights of workers are respected?
What hazardous materials are used in manufacturing and whether the manufacturing process complies with internationally accepted standards of occupational safety and health?
Where, by whom, and under which conditions brand name products are manufactured?
What are the financial and economic conditions of manufacturing contracts between brand names and their suppliers, and whether suppliers and manufacturers are squeezed?
What impact corporate decisions on the allocation of manufacturing contracts, downsizing and closings of factories, and the establishment of new manufacturing facilities have on communities?

In the light of these urgent questions, we call on the relevant companies and government agencies in China and internationally to support an independent international investigation of the economic, financial and social backgrounds of the tragic events at Foxconn. Such an investigation should be led by the International Labour Organization with participation from independent academic experts, trade unions, labor and environmental NGOs, and other organizations with relevant expertise in the field, excluding those who are linked to corporate interests or have received substantial funding from the affected corporations in recent years.

SIGNATORS: (list in formation; A – Z; as of 6 JUNE 2010, UK Time)

Amanda Bell, Columbia University
Anita Chan, University of Technology, Sydney
Boy Luethje, University of Frankfurt
Eileen Boris, University of California, Santa Barbara
Ellen David Friedman, Sun Yat-sen University
John Trumpbour, Harvard University
Kate Bronfenbrenner, Cornell University
Katie Quan, University of California, Berkeley
Meei-shia Chen, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan
Peter Evans, University of California, Berkeley
Robert Ross, Clark University
Stephen Philion, St. Cloud State University


INTERPOL produces report on the links between organized crime and electronic waste disposal

07 July 2009

INTERPOL has published a new report entitled Electronic Waste and Organized Crime: Assessing the Links, aimed at all persons concerned with environmental crime.

Electronic waste (e-waste) is the collective term for all the pre-owned products such as computers and televisions discarded by our modern consumer society. As these products often contain hazardous chemicals and metals, the management and appropriate disposal of e-waste is regulated by national and international laws and agreements in order to minimize the risk of damage to human health and the environment. However, due to the stringent regulations in the European Union and Americas these products are often shipped to other countries in order to avoid expensive recycling and disposal costs. If handled inappropriately, e-waste can release poisonous or hazardous materials into the environment or water supplies, posing a serious health threat to communities.

Prepared by the INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme and its Pollution Crime Working Group, this report represents a milestone in their efforts to develop global and multi-sector responses to the many issues surrounding the illegal e-waste trade and the levels of criminal organization behind them.

"This report is an important resource for environmental enforcement agencies and national police agencies worldwide. It will help raise awareness of the scale of the e-waste problem, and provide a springboard for global action in the fight against pollution crime", said the Manager of the INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme, David Higgins.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Kate Sinding’s Blog
NYS Passes Cutting Edge E-Waste Law
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Posted May 29, 2010 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment
Tags: assemblymansweeney, computers, e-waste, electronics, electronicwaste, environmentalprotectionfund, EPF, EPR, erecycling, ewaste, extendedproducerresponsibility, governorpaterson, newyork, newyorkcity, newyorkers, NRDC, nysassembly, nyssenate, paterson, producerresponsibility, productstewardship, recycling, senatorthompson, televisions, TVs, waste
NY's Legislature passed, and the governor signed, what is arguably the most progressive electronics recycling law in the country last week, finally ensuring that all of the state's residents will have access to free and convenient recycling for their old and unwanted TVs, computers and other electronics.

Passage of the e-waste measure caps three years of hard work and intense lobbying by proponents. Special kudos go to the leadership of both legislative houses (especially Assemblymember Bob Sweeney and Senator Antoine Thompson, respective chairs of the Environmental Conservation Committees in each house), as well as Governor Paterson, all of whom worked extremely diligently to make the legislation a reality.

New York now joins 22 other states in mandating that manufacturers bear the responsibility for taking back their toxin-containing used electronics from consumers for responsible recycling. This approach not only gets these dangerous products out of our landfills and incinerators where they can contaminate water and air, it also removes the burden of handling this fastest-growing part of the waste stream from municipalities and taxpayers. Equally importantly, by shifting the costs of end-of-life waste management to the manufacturers, it encourages them to design products in the first instance that are easier - and hence cheaper - to recycle in the first place. Ultimately, this should result in products that have fewer toxic components, and more reusable and recyclable components, requiring less use of virgin materials.

The New York measure takes advantage of what we have learned about how these programs are best structured, building off the successful e-waste laws that already exist in 22 states, including Washington, Oregon and Minnesota.

Key features of this landmark law include:

Requiring product manufacturers to take financial responsibility for the collection and safe disposal and recycling of used electronic equipment.
Covering a broad scope of products, including televisions, computer monitors, computers, keyboards, mice, printers and cables.
Imposing strong collection standards that give manufacturers latitude to create collection programs that fit their specific business model so long as they collect the statutory minimum amount of waste each year. The standard starts at three pounds per capita in year one, rising to four in year two and five and year three. Thereafter, the mandatory minimum standard is allowed to "float" (within a prescribed range) based on what was collected in the prior year.
Allowing for free e-waste recycling for a wide range of consumers, including individuals, schools, municipalities, small businesses, and small non-profits.
Passage of the measure also effectively negates a nearly year old industry lawsuit challenging New York City's 2008 e-waste recycling law. The state bill would preempt the city law, the proposed implementation of which spurred litigation because of objections to a regulatory requirement that manufacturers provide direct collection from residents for items weighing over fifteen pounds. The state measure is not expected to lead to any similar regulatory requirement and is therefore not expected to face industry challenge.

Unfortunately, passage of the long-awaited e-waste law did not come without a cost, as the program was passed as part of larger deal that resulted in major cuts to the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).

The EPF pays for a broad range of environmental programs that includes open space protections, land purchases, clean water safety investments, ocean conservation research, zoos, parks and much else. Last year, the Paterson administration cut the Fund from a high water mark of $255 million to an appropriated $212 million. This year, as Paterson threatened the state legislature (and the public) with the closings of numerous parks and park facilities across the state, he demanded that the EPF line be reduced to $133 million, nearly $90 million less than last fiscal year. This at a time when the main revenue-generating instrument for the EPF, the Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) has grown in the past three months over last year. Legislative leadership, at the end of an arduous week of negotiations, accepted Paterson's deal in return for keeping the Parks open and passing the landmark e-waste law.

Nonetheless, the e-waste law represents a major victory in another challenging legislative session in Albany and should be a cause for serious celebration by all New Yorkers who have been waiting too long for a free, convenient and responsible way to get rid of those unwanted TVs and computers taking up space in their closets, garages and attics.