Feb 012012

I have a few problems with the New York Times pieces on Apple’s responsibility to its supply chain (which I’m still getting my thoughts around), but this passage from the January 25th piece really stuck with me:

Many major technology companies have worked with factories where conditions are troubling. However, independent monitors and suppliers say some act differently. Executives at multiple suppliers, in interviews, said that Hewlett-Packard and others allowed them slightly more profits and other allowances if they were used to improve worker conditions.
“Our suppliers are very open with us,” said Zoe McMahon, an executive in Hewlett-Packard’s supply chain social and environmental responsibility program. “They let us know when they are struggling to meet our expectations, and that influences our decisions.”

So HP lets suppliers slide on price if there’s some sense that gouging the supplier will compromise worker safety? This, above anything else in the article, is the thing that jumps off the page and slaps me in the face, as it should any intelligent person. Substantiate that statement, HP. I fucking dare you. Show me how suppliers are “allowed…slightly more profits and other allowances if they were used to improve worker conditions”. Show me where you spend more for the same components in the same quantity and show me how this leads to improved conditions. These cowardly open-ended statements are meant to imply that Apple, with its universally-known and way-too-big-by-some-Stewartian-standard margins, willfully doesn’t do the same thing. The New York Times is gleefully throwing excrement from one of Apple’s competitors using nebulous language such as “struggling”, “expectations” and “influences” to contrast HP’s un-corporate generosity to Apple’s willful neglect.

Show your work, HP, or go off the record like the rest of the spineless asshats in quotes.

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