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Paying More for Better Conditions in Apple Factories

On January 25, 2012, The New York Times published an article describing the extremely poor working conditions at the manufacturing factories that make Apple’s products in China.  These conditions included:

  • Long shifts
  • People being killed in explosions
  • Factory workers standing for so long they can hardly walk
  • Underage workers
  • Living in crowded dorms
  • Working seven days a week

I asked ten Chicago residents, “Should Apple raise their prices, if customers are willing to pay more, and use this profit to put their workers in safer conditions? Or does this successful company already have enough money to provide better working environments?”

Opinions varied.

Not just Apple

One person felt the media had unfairly singled out Apple. “The problem is, it’s not just Apple. Other companies in the world are doing the same thing,” said Eliz Kumral, 25, studying at Chicago State University.  Some experts have noted that companies such as Dell, Motorola, Nokia, and Sony also place their workers in similar conditions.

Several people said they’d pay more for these products if workers had better conditions.  Herb Kaplan, an octogenarian, stated, “It’s not so much willing is it? It’s whatever the price is.  If the list price was higher because the Chinese workers were better paid, I would pay the price.”

But wallets will only open so far. “I would pay a little more, but there’s an extent I would pay,” said Jonathon Gilbertson, 22, of Hub International Insurance Company.

A few felt Apple’s prices were already too high. “To be honest, I think I’m paying enough for Apple products, especially since I have an iPhone, an iPad, and a computer,” said Tyson Fricke, 24, a retail manager.

Apple’s Image

Some felt this news wouldn’t change Apple’s image. “We know Apple.  I’ve sort of grown up with Apple products.  Back when the iPod came out, it became the big thing, and Apple became very popular and very hip,” stated Malcolm Sturdevant, 32, an actor and student.

Others didn’t have such a positive view of the tech giant.  “As they get more and more popular they find more ways to gouge you for things, and I feel they’ve lost sight of their ethical kind of pathway anyway,” said Abi Kelly, 36, a creative director in advertising and marketing. “They should reevaluate their choices.”

Photo by: Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.