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Ask Slashdot: Tech Manufacturers With Better Labor Practices? 375

First time accepted submitter srs5694 writes "In light of the recent flood of stories about abysmal labor practices at Foxconn and other Chinese factories that produce most of the tech products we consume, the question arises: Who makes motherboards, plug-in cards, cell phones, and other devices WITHOUT relying on labor practices that are just one rung above slave labor? If I want to buy a new tech gadget, from whom can I buy it without ethical qualms?"
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Ask Slashdot: Tech Manufacturers With Better Labor Practices?

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  • From whom can I buy? (Score:4, Informative)

    by c0lo (1497653) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @10:16PM (#39055379)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @10:39PM (#39055547)

    They are opening a new plant in a less prosperous area. Salaries are going up as a result.
    (People's Daily is a Party organ, some skepticism is required)

    And there are long queues for the jobs:

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @11:37PM (#39056005) Homepage

    Quite true. In fact, most people don't know that Europe started to mass-export their industry to North America in early 1800's, and literally built their society on the backs of children here. And they did so right up until the 1930's give or take a little bit. Though if you look further back, companies were exporting their industry as soon as people started landing here and started setting up shop. Hell, England was buying wagon wheels made in Canada, made by children, paid by levy in 1750.

    Though let's not forget, it was this flagrant abuse that forced us. To say enough was enough, and ensure there were working standards, end child slaveshops and all the rest too. Though it went on for a long time before anything changed.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by actionbastard (1206160) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @11:39PM (#39056035)
    It goes a lot deeper than just the components. It goes down to the minerals and metals that make up those components:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coltan#Ethics_of_Coltan_mining_in_the_Democratic_Republic_of_Congo [wikipedia.org]

    http://sitemaker.umich.edu/section002group3/coltan_mining_in_democratic_republic_of_the_congo [umich.edu]

    Apple gets the spotlight thrown on it because of its popular following. But every company that makes anything electronic or that contains electronic components is just as culpable.
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by afabbro (33948) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @12:50AM (#39056415) Homepage

    The hard part is going without shoes.

    Low-tech goods can still be found "made in the USA" (assuming you're in the USA, but probably true elsewhere). A Google, for example, turned up this site [americansworking.com] for shoes. There are lots of things where, if you're willing to pay more and take a more traditional approach (e.g., leather instead of high-tech fabrics), you can buy local. For example, it is easy to buy all your furniture from a local craftsman/woodworker - but the price will not even be remotely like what you'd find at Wal-mart.

    On the other hand, for most if not all high-tech consumer goods, there simply is no other choice.

  • by Niko. (89205) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @02:43AM (#39056979)

    apparently it's not so much the minimal labor wages that make China attractive to manufacturing, but the supply of trained engineers to manage the operation. Apple alone needs hundreds of engineers to supervise the thousands of workers.

    http://www.tuaw.com/2012/01/22/why-apples-products-are-designed-in-california-but-assembled/ [tuaw.com]

  • Re:Nokia (Score:5, Informative)

    by sourcerror (1718066) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @02:44AM (#39056989)

    Can confirm that. A Nokia factory closed this month in Hungary. They're moving it to Asia too.

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Thursday February 16, 2012 @06:41AM (#39057937)

    Workers at foxconn have access to a diverse diet, which, by the way, is actually pretty tough to get on 2 dollars a day.

    More Americans understand this than you think. The 44 million or so of us who are on food stamps - I was one of them - try to live on anywhere from $3-6 a day for food. Just check out some of the various Hunger Challenges [democracyinaction.org] out there on the Internets.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by NormalVisual (565491) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @07:56AM (#39058335)
    It wasn't just the Luddites in the 19th century that caused problems for those who chose not to join them. My grandfather, along with his brothers, owned a coal mine in Alabama that was effectively shut down by none other than John L. Lewis himself in 1949, in cooperation with other UMW members and the local sheriff. My family already paid more than the prevailing union wage at the time and refused to go along with the short 3-day work week that Lewis had been coordinating nationwide, so Lewis and his thugs showed up to teach them a lesson and started shooting into occupied vehicles and destroying equipment. More than a thousand shots were exchanged, and one of the union thugs died during the attack. Eventually, 13 of the union people were convicted and fined (note that the miner that shot and killed one of the attackers was never even charged), and 10 more (including Lewis) were nolle prossed.

    Interesting that the UMW doesn't care to include that chapter in its history.

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