Cornell University

August 5 2013

Apple Inc. Appoints Friedman

Professor on board to improve working conditions

ILR Assistant Professor Eli FriedmanILR Assistant Professor Eli Friedman has been named to the Apple Inc. Academic Advisory Board, which will advise the company on ethical working conditions for supply chain employees.

The panel's eight volunteers, all professors, are slated to conduct or commission new research on labor standards within Apple's supply chain. They will also study Apple's policies and practices, and make recommendations.

"There are hundreds of thousands of workers employed in Apple's supply chains. If these workers could have decent jobs that provided material security within reasonable working hours, the economic and political consequences would be immense," Friedman said.

Working conditions at China factories where Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwan-based Apple supplier which assembles iPhones and iPads, were widely publicized after worker suicides in recent years.

Through the Washington-based Fair Labor Association and other avenues, Apple has been addressing its suppliers' labor standards.

A May report from the Fair Labor Association showed "continued improvement" in working conditions at Foxconn factories, where issues such as work weeks of more than 60 hours, poor lighting and high noise levels have been identified.

But, Apple has continued to be dogged by allegations of labor abuses in its supply chain. This past week, China Labor Watch issued a report which claimed that Pegatron, a major Apple supplier, is "violating a great number of international and Chinese laws and standards as well as the standards of Apple's own social responsibility code of conduct."

Friedman joined ILR's faculty after completing his doctorate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His primary research focus is labor in China.

His current research focuses on the relationship between migrant workers, unions and the state in contemporary China.

In addition to Friedman, Apple academic advisory board members are Richard Locke, Brown University; Mark Cullen, Stanford University; Mary Gallagher, University of Michigan; Margaret Levi, University of Washington; Dara O'Rourke, University of California, Berkeley; Charles Sabel, Columbia University, and Annelee Saxenian, University of California, Berkeley.