Last week, a bunch of protesters stormed the Apple store at Grand Central Station, in midtown Manhattan. They were there to present a pair of petitions collected on SumOfUs and Change.org, both demanding that Apple change the way workers are treated in overseas factories.
It was only the latest attack on Apple for contracting companies with dubious workers' rights records. Apple has been under heavy fire since the publication, earlier this year, of a Times expose on the Apple supply chain.
Today brings another critical report, this one from the Korea Daily. According to the newspaper, the Chinese factory workers that assemble the iPad 2 earn approximately $8, collectively, for every Apple tablet that rolls off the supply line. Eight bucks, as a point of reference, is less than two percent of the price of the cheapest iPad.
It's also far less than the $34 per iPad 2 reportedly paid to factory workers in Korea.
Assuming the report is correct, Chinese workers are getting shortchanged. And Apple is making out big: The Register calculates that Apple rakes in a hefty $150 – 30 percent of the retail price – on every iPad 2 sold. So will Apple, which currently dominates the tablet market in the US, be affected by growing concern over the way its products are built?
Hard to say.
But Apple is certainly concerned enough to have begun hitting back at critics. "Our commitment is very, very simple," Apple CEO Tim Cook said recently at the Goldman Sachs' Technology Conference. "We believe every worker has the right to a fair and safe work environment free of discrimination where they can earn competitive wages and where they can voice their concerns freely."