When Donald Trump and then-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced a plan to give billions of dollars to the notorious Taiwanese sweatshop operator Foxconn to build a super-factory in Wisconsin, knowledgeable people were alarmed. Read the rest
In 2017, Trump and then-Wisconsin Governor (and Koch darling) Scott Walker announced that they would give Chinese manufacturing giant $3B in taxpayer subsidies to open the only flat panel display factory in the western hemisphere (the figure quickly grew to $4.1B), despite the company's long, documented history of lying to governments, sucking up subsidies, and never delivering the promised facilities or jobs. Read the rest
The Verge's Josh Dzieza continues his outstanding coverage of Foxconn's shell-game in Wisconsin, where the company -- promised billions in subsidies and tax-breaks by former governor Scott Walker, a Koch darling, and by Trump, who used Foxconn's promise of a major new Wisconsin factory to claim his policies were working -- has lived up to its reputation for overpromising and underdelivering by absorbing billions in subsidies but never delivering on promised jobs. Read the rest
Foxconn gave Wisconsin hard-line GOP governor Scott Walker and Donald Trump a great story to tell about the triumph of their ideology: that with enough corporate welfare, high-tech manufacturing jobs could come back to America, in the form of an LCD factory in Wisconsin that would employ 13,000 people. Read the rest
When GOP darling Scott Walker offered to hand billions in subsidies to Chinese manufacturing giant Foxconn, he was warned: the Foxconn MO is to suck up billions in public money for ambitious megafactories, then scale them back into small, largely irrelevant facilities (or cancel them altogether). Read the rest
Last July, Wisconsin's far-right state government declared victory for its "free market" agenda when it announced that it would transfer $3,000,000,000 in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to Foxconn, in order to tempt the company to open a factory in the state -- despite the company's long history of broken promises and outright lies about the jobs and spending in other places that had welcomed it in. Read the rest
Tony Fadell is best known "one of the fathers of the iPod" at Apple, and as the former CEO of Nest. We've agreed to forget that he led the Google Glass division for a while, too. Today, news broke that the serial inventor and investor is now working with companies including Samsung Electronics and Foxconn's parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry, to develop new technology that would allow mobile phone devices to “transfer large amounts of data without using wires or WiFi connections.” Read the rest
The recent trumpist trumpeting about the plans of Chinese manufacturer Foxconn to open a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin omitted a few key details -- like the fact that Foxconn is being given a sweetheart tax-break that's topped up with 15 years' worth of guarantees of up to $200m/year in cash subsidies at taxpayer expense -- a record-setting taxpayer subsidy that exceeds the previous Wisconsin record-holder by a factor of fifty. Read the rest
Below, a snip from his most recent piece on the phenomenon of "bloody factories" in China, which he argues is a far greater problem than Foxconn.
Matthews interviews a labor advocate and self-taught "barefoot lawyer" for migrant workers who have experienced workplace injuries; the man takes him on "a tour that even Daisey couldn’t have dreamed up."
Read the rest
We traveled through hardscrabble sections of Dongguan’s Tangxia Town, a factory town near the coast in Guangdong. He introduced me to a worker fired for organizing a union, a man denied overtime payments and a woman whose symptoms mirrored those of the Wintek workers. The notes about her on his printed spreadsheet were: “leg can’t move.”
That woman is Shi Yuping, a mother of two with short black hair, capris and flip-flops. Shi is in her late thirties but looks much older. We sat at a picnic table outside a convenience store as Shi told her story. Her husband Jiang Ancai stood nearby and listened.
Shi worked for a Hong Kong-owned plastics factory. The factory used a chemical as toxic as n-hexane to clean plastic parts. Shi fell ill during a trip home to Henan province to see her mother and her children (many migrant workers send children to stay with grandparents so the parents can both work). She received no compensation and no reimbursement for her 20-day hospital stay. “She called the company to ask for continuation of the leave,” Wang explained.
Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook speaks to employees during a visit to the iPhone production line at the newly built Foxconn Zhengzhou Technology Park, in Henan province, China. Photo taken March 28, 2012 (REUTERS). Reports and analysis on the significance of the visit: Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Wired News, IBT, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times.
On Friday, I threw together a quick blog post about a recent David Pogue column on Foxconn, and responses to that column by others around the web. The resulting Boing Boing discussion thread was full of thoughtful, interesting stuff, and (for the most part!) surprisingly non-inflammatory. Give it a read. I've also updated the post to include a few relevant links I neglected to include, like this related ABC Nightline TV episode, and another Pogue column on the hidden cost of cheap gadgets. Read the rest
A job seeker yawns as he queues outside Foxconn recruitment center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province February 22, 2012. REUTERS/Joe Tan
New York Times tech columnist David Pogue sure has an interesting take on the Foxconn/worker's rights debacle.
One point I agree with: it's a mistake to focus solely on Apple. Many, many Western technology companies work with Foxconn, and with factories where conditions are worse. From the January 25 NYT piece on Foxconn:
Foxconn Technology [is] China’s largest exporter and one of the nation’s biggest employers, with 1.2 million workers. The company has plants throughout China, and assembles an estimated 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronics, including for customers like Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Nintendo, Nokia and Samsung.
Let that sink in. Foxconn outputs nearly half of all the world's consumer electronics.
Few tech companies have taken the kinds of early steps Apple has to try and improve matters, and share information about the process.
And while Pogue doesn't explicitly address this point, I'll throw it out there: cheap overseas labor in rotten conditions with poor labor law standards are part of what keeps gadget prices where they are. If we mean what we say about wanting better lives for the men and women who make our consumer electronics, are we willing to change consumer culture, and pay more? I'm not optimistic.
What do you think? And is there *any* reality-based model that could lead to some of those manufacturing jobs coming back to the US (or, name your labor-friendly nation here) in our lifetimes? Read the rest
Foster Kamer at Betabeat writes: "Apple released an announcement today explaining that the Fair Labor Association will be conducting an independent audit that is 'unprecedented in size and scale' in the electronics industry. As part of it, they contend that they’ll be interviewing thousands of Foxconn employees, and that the FLA will be taking the 'unusual' step of identifying the individual factories audited in their report." Read the rest
Computing giant Apple today for the first time released an unprecedented trove of information about its supply chain: the "Apple Supplier Responsibility Report." Some industry observers believe the move indicates Apple under Tim Cook may turn out to be a more transparent company than under previous CEO Steve Jobs. "I would like to totally eliminate every case of underage employment," said Cook. Here's a PDF of the report. Some labor rights groups say the release is a step forward, but not far forward enough. (via @joshgreenman) Read the rest