D.C. protesters decry Apple labor conditions in China

Protesters gathered outside the store to denounce labor conditions in Chinese factories. (WTOP Photo/Hank Silverberg)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Crowds at Apple stores are nothing new, but the Georgetown location is getting some unwanted attention Thursday.

Protesters gathered outside the store to denounce labor conditions in Chinese factories, where workers put in long hours for little pay and are also exposed to dangerous chemicals, the demonstrators say.

The group, led by Change.org and SumOfUs.org went to the Apple store on Wisconsin Avenue to present a petition with 250,000 names on it. Similar protests have sprung up in five other cities, including New York, San Francisco, London, Sydney and Bangalore.

Mark Shields, who carried the petition, says he loves Apple products but is concerned about the Chinese workers.

“They can make their products without horrible human suffering,” he says. “What gave me a knot in my stomach was hearing about how people in these factories are treated.”

In an emailed statement, Apple says they are committed to safe conditions:

“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple.”

Last month, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association, a nonprofit dedicated to improving labor conditions around the world. The team will audit Apple and report their findings independently, writes Apple spokeswoman Amy Bessette.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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