What We Know About Foxconn

Monday, April 02, 2012

Chinese workers assemble electronic components at the Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn's factory in Shenzhen. (Getty Images/Getty)

Rob Schmitz, China correspondent of Martketplace, to talk about his recent visit to the Foxconn plant, and answer listener questions about electronics manufacturing in China


Rob Schmitz

Comments [22]

bill from cali

im going to sound calloused by saying this but...
the people working in these new factories would have been working sun up to sundown in some rice paddy likely for less than enough sustenance if not for these jobs. for most, farming was their past and their future. now, they support families back home as they carve a way out of a life destined for a long,uncertain struggle for rural survival.
yes, they have changed one struggle for another but,for many, the factory will be merely a starting block for themselves as well as for the next generation of Chinese. no one offers a pain free way out of an 18th century existence. we didnt find an easy path in the U.S., china will have to fight its way up as well. this is the ugly truth of societal progress.
of course commerce must do what it can to avoid contributing to human rights abuses but keep in mind the overwhelming desire in these hard working people to get better ones self. they, for the most part, are simply a struggling people who want a piece of the future for themselves and their families.these are not indentured servants. they work as they did in the fields and farms: sun up to sundown and they are doing it..they are taking their piece of the future.

Apr. 02 2012 01:50 PM

as a retired union worker for one of the biggest utilities in NY, used to be biggest in the country before divestiture.We commonly worked 60 hours a week, we wanted to work 60 hours a week. We were paid OT on the 9th hour at There were workers that workers 7 days a week for years,both outside line workers and inside workers. We liked to make the money. WE had bills and we weren't the 1% We paid a lot in taxes, and usually maxed out our FICA in early December and the Heavy hitters maxed out FICA months earlier. I dont see why raising FICA to help with social security every couple of years is a bad thing, we were used to it. Our retirement was based only on our non overtime we had to work late into life. We also had the union-mangement troubles where the upper managers would suspend a person for going to a company location to use the br, and it wasnt to P. It was a very urban area, if caught coming out of a store or coffee shop , where bathrooms were = suspension even if you called your boss b4 going to let them know. trucks were hot diesel with no AC, first step into back of truck to get into bucket, was twice the OSHA reg for ladders step spacing, many of us had knee surgery ,since we could do that climb 50 times a day. Manhole coves at 300lbs plus, 2 people would bend over to hook and pull,with crowbar size hooks=destroyed spine.Exposure to asbestos,PBC from old leaking transformers. There were so many other safety issues and insane managers, forget about the ADA, only in the shiny brochures. Worry about the usa conditions

Apr. 02 2012 12:51 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Diane Mensinger from NJ said:

"My Dad worked for the Post Office and during the Great Depression, he made $15/wk that was working 48 hrs. That works out to $2.50/day."

And.... how much was his rent back then? $35 per month? How much did a phone call cost? $0.05? How much did the subway cost? How much did a loaf of bread cost? How much did a gallon of gas cost?

Apr. 02 2012 11:55 AM
Peg from Brooklyn

First, I hope your reporter and caller don't really mean it is justified to impose on Apple's factory workers the kind of horrific conditions suffered by US factory workers in the 19th century.
Second, as much as Westerners want to pay as little as possible for the next Apple toy, we can afford a few more cents so workers earn a living wage.
These workers should benefit from the huge success of what they produce, and the most cash-rich corporation in the world can afford to ensure decent and fair conditions for them.

Apr. 02 2012 11:40 AM
anthony from New York, NY

Now you need to have a segment that supports, yes, us feeling very guilty about having our apple products made in china.... I do. I'm very upset about it... The easy answer to buy another product is too simple an answer. You really need to get someone who knows China better, and who's gotten behind the surface....
workers "not forced to be here" really needs some more looking into as well.

And this is about the best factory in China, and now the most carefully observed.... we are responsible for capitalism at it's worst over there..

Apr. 02 2012 11:31 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Foxconn's workers may not have been literally forced to work at their factories, but if they had no chance to make a living where they moved from, they didn't have much of a choice. It doesn't excuse unsafe conditions, low pay, or excessive hours.

Apr. 02 2012 11:30 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Why don't we stop telling other people how to work and live, and just concentrate on our own? WE just don't like the rise of Apple and the rise of China.

Apr. 02 2012 11:27 AM
keith from hell's kitchen

This guy seems to be nothing more than an apologist for these factories. I'm sure he hasn't spoken to anyone that would complain about conditions. This visit was arranged by the factory.

Apr. 02 2012 11:22 AM
anthony from New York, NY

ps. I'll always remember a battery factory....none of the workers, many tibetan, had NO protective gear, nothing on hands, for eyes, anything.... very dangerous....
all chinese foremen (women moslty)....most tibetan workers. Same through tibetan reagions.... most workers brought in from Han areas, and Tibetans left out.... no Tibetan foremen... The only Tibetan associations doing decently where those the towed the Chinese line....
I feel horrible that my beloved Apple products are made there, and would love a movement to move them to Mexico or back here.... we already pay way too much for them... love them, but.... let's to the right thing...

Apr. 02 2012 11:21 AM
John A.

So log me as a once slave laborer. Twice in my career I worked projects where 55 h/w was the norm, 70 h/w was for emergencies, and just 40 hours were paid.

Apr. 02 2012 11:19 AM

foxconn is not a chinese company but a foreign one.

the issue here is a foreign company's treatment of local workers.

has this reporter gotten a handle yet on how Taiwanese (!) companies are thought of by chinese workers and chinese officials, and does this differ from the perception of chinese ones? american ones?

Apr. 02 2012 11:18 AM
Mark from nyc

What is so complicated? Why dont' they just raise the regular hourly wage. That way they can still make the same amount of money, with less hours.

Apr. 02 2012 11:17 AM

i'm sure they don't want to work more hours.

they want more money. if the hourly wage were higher....

Apr. 02 2012 11:16 AM
Diane Mensinger from NJ

My Dad worked for the Post Office and during the Great Depression, he made $15/wk that was working 48 hrs. That works out to $2.50/day. But the whole economy was not as big as it is now. Today, companies and their employees and stockholders do make significant DLrs from the sale of products.

Apr. 02 2012 11:15 AM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

We fought these battles back in the 19th century and into the middle of the 20th century. Its the 21st century and that's why there's no excuse for these working conditions to exist anywhere! Its like saying China should allow legal slavery because early America had it....

Apr. 02 2012 11:15 AM
anthony from New York, NY

I visited many factories with a old chinese friend in 2007... saw much of what can only be called slave and indentured servants....
We here were only concerned with profits when we sent all out work to China.... if only we had some of the concern for human beings that we worked for over 100 years for here in this country... basic safety and basic conditions where you could have a rood over your heard and food to eat. We didn't care and that is to our shame....
China is a master and has been for decades in showing you what they want you to see.... believe me.... masters. Any one, anyone sharing anything off the path, will be spoken with and dealt with....

Apr. 02 2012 11:15 AM
Amanda from Brooklyn

The issue to me is not that we should be trying to change working conditions in other countries, but that American corporations are exploiting the working conditions of other countries to increase their profits.

Apr. 02 2012 11:14 AM
Mason from New York

American does not do a good job with our undocumented workers. Workers who are here on work visas are for lack of a better word-indentured servants. We have no business crticizing other countries for worker conditions.

Apr. 02 2012 11:14 AM
John A.

Do Chinese workers get straight pay for overtime?

Apr. 02 2012 11:11 AM


step 1: buy american -- it's good for the economy because it provides living wages for americans!

step 2: kill unions -- it's bad for the economy because it provides living wages for americans!

Takeaway -- any US pressure put on China regarding living wages ought to be universal.

Apr. 02 2012 11:11 AM

What do we know about the plans for a 300,000 worker factory in Iowa?

Apr. 02 2012 11:06 AM
Joe from nearby

Oh geez, when I heard the program announcement say 'Foxconn' earlier, I thought they were really saying 'Fox-con.'

Apr. 02 2012 10:28 AM

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