The Ed Show | February 14, 2012
SCHULTZ: In the Big Finish tonight, customer outrage, that is what it is -- customer outrage is forcing one of the biggest companies in the world to crack down on labor violations at its overseas factories. You know the story about Apple ? Well, Apple is a huge company. They have announced that an audit by a third party organization at factories where its products are made. IPhones , iPads and Apple Computers are assembled mostly in China . Apple says its suppliers will give the auditors what they say unrestricted access to their operations during the inspections. Since 2007 , violations include excessive overtime, under-age workers, improper hazardous waste disposal and falsified records. There have been more than 200 worker injuries, and more than 20 deaths from accidents and suicides. An unnamed Apple executive told the " New York Times " "customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China ." But customers started caring when the labor abuses became public. One of the people responsible for exposing this story is Mike Daisey . Daisey is an author, and monologist who traveled to China and witnessed the working conditions at the Foxconn Factory .
MIKE DAISEY, AUTHOR "THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS: But I do know that in my first two hours of my first day, at that gate, I met workers who were 14 years old. I met workers who were 13 years old. I met workers who were 12. Do you really think Apple doesn't know?
SCHULTZ: We are joined tonight Mike Daisey . Great to have you with us. His monologue called " The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs ." And it's performed at the public theater in New York City . For 18 months you have been doing this, 19 cities across the world. First of all, I'm intrigued, congratulations. I have not seen your performance, but you come to us tonight with absolute rave reviews. I've talked to people who have seen you. And you just sit down at the desk and you tell it like it is about what you saw in China . And I 'm intrigued what motivated you to do that?
DAISEY: I have always loved technology. I have loved Apple , actually. I loved the devices. And I knew a lot about them, because I'm kind of a tech geek that way. I realized on day that I didn't actually know -- I knew how to take my computer apart, but I didn't know how it had actually been made. And I started researching it. And a lot of these stories that are coming out now, human rights groups have been reporting on them for the better part of a decade. So none of this is actually controversial. This is actually how things are done across the electronics industry . So I felt compelled to go to China and actually dig in the story.
SCHULTZ: And you went there in 2010 , correct?
SCHULTZ: OK. What did you see?
DAISEY: I saw all the things that everyone has been reporting on. I saw under-age workers. I talked to workers who were 13, 14, 15 years old. I met people whose hands have been destroyed from doing the same motion again and again on the line, carpal tunnel on a scale we can hardly imagine.
SCHULTZ: Making Apple products?
DAISEY: Yes. And making products across the electronics industry . All our electronics are made in this fashion.
SCHULTZ: Now did you get Steve Jobs ' attention? >
DAISEY: Oh yes, yes, because all people who had come to see the show -- there's been over 70,000 now -- I would give them Steve Jobs ' e- mail address . And many of them would write to him. Every once in a while , he would respond and they would forward those emails to me.
SCHULTZ: What was the most interesting e-mail that you saw from Steve Jobs once you went to Apple and started this presentation, what, 18 months ago? What was the most interesting email you got or you saw from Steve Jobs on this issue about under age workers and the way they were being treated?
DAISEY: Well, across the spectrum, you know, he gave a lot of responses. But one that sticks with me is that he -- someone wrote to him about the excessive hours and how people often work over 100 hours a week. They work these incredible hours until they are just driven in the ground. They were advocating for reasonable work week, like our work week of 40 hours. And Steve Jobs wrote back one line e -mail saying "I work a lot more than 40 hours."
SCHULTZ: What do these people get paid in China to do this? What does Apple pay them? I mean, this is all about cheap labor, isn't it?
DAISEY: It is. Cheap labor is the engine that fuels this entire enterprise. It should be said that there is a different standard of living. And it's one of the reasons that all this industry goes to the area. That said, it's still true that the amount people are being paid is low enough that they feel like they need to work that incredibly excessive amount of overtime. And then they're practically required to do it until they drive themselves into the ground.
SCHULTZ: What is your response to the unnamed Apple executive who told the " New York Times " that the American people don't care about the working conditions in China; they just want a real good piece of equipment?
DAISEY: That is not true. I think we're seeing that. I think that we all have blinded ourselves for a long time to how manufacturing is in China . The truth is that these conditions exist across manufacturing in China . We don't want to look at them. But when we start looking, when we actually get called to attention, people react.
SCHULTZ: What do you make of Apple 's sudden shift on this issue? They say that they are going to have an audit go in there -- an auditor go in there. How does that hit you?
DAISEY: Well, I'm glad to see them actually starting to react. The last thing Apple did is that Tim Cook sent out an e-mail saying how furious he was with the " New York Times " story, even though he couldn't contest any of the actual charges in it. So it's good to see them reacting. At the same time, I have real questions about the ability of the FLA to be independent of Apple , when they receive so much money from Apple and the other corporate members in them.
SCHULTZ: Unions are not legal in China .
DAISEY: That's correct.
SCHULTZ: Moving forward, what more are you going to do? Are you going to continue your presentation as a monologist here in New York ? But what are your future plans?
DAISEY: The future plans are we're going -- we're this week releasing the text of the monologue online. And it's under an open license. Anyone in the world who wants to perform this show in any way, if they want to film it, if they want to put it on Youtube , they want to do it in their communities, can do it anywhere, whenever they want, free of charge.
SCHULTZ: Where do they find that?
DAISEY: They're going to find it at my website. It's MikeDaisey.com.
SCHULTZ: Mike Daisey , you're doing great work. Congratulations. It's the story in the world when it comes to labor. That is