A week after Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) revealed record-breaking sales numbers that drove its value to new heights, the company's fans were shown a bleaker image of Cupertino in a recently published New York Times series. The iEconomy series paints a picture of harsh working conditions in some overseas facilities that manufacture Apple products, including brutally long hours, unhealthy living and working spaces and ultimately worker suicides.
Since the story broke, human rights activists have advocated increased awareness of foreign labor conditions. Mike Daisey, the star of his one-man show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," which highlights some of the claims about Apple's labor policies, said he was delighted that The New York Times was highlighting the issue.
In one campaign from Change.org, Mark Shields, a self-proclaimed Apple "super-user," has gathered 140,000 signatures of people asking Apple to step up its protection of workers.
The newfound attention that the issue has drawn was enough for Tim Cook to personally respond to the article. In an e-mail to employees reposted on 9to5 Mac, Cook said the company cares "about every worker in our worldwide supply chain" and said the suggestion the company doesn't is "offensive." The company continues to investigate worker conditions, he said, and he directed employees to a Supplier Responsibility page within the website that outlines different areas of Apple's social responsibility, such as labor and human rights, worker health and safety and environmental impact.
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