Performer highlights hardships Apple factory workers endure

Performer highlights hardships Apple factory workers endure
SEATTLE -- A former Seattle artist performing locally says the millions who own iPhones, iPods or other companies' high-tech devices need to be aware of the hardships that factory workers endure.

Apple is making headlines this week over its Chinese supplier, who is accused of forcing factory workers to sign a non-suicide pledge.

Performer Mike Daisey is outlining the reportedly harsh working conditions in his show, "The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," a traveling monologue that takes jabs at Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Daisey learned the agony when he went undercover in factories in China.

"I posed as an American businessman," he said. "I made fake business cards and pretended I was looking for suppliers."

Daisey said he witnessed underage workers at several factories that supply high-tech American companies. Among them was Foxconn, which makes tiny parts for Apple.

"I didn't expect to find 14-, 13-, 12-year-old children assembling our electronics being put into those jobs, because their hands are so small," he said.

Apple said it, too, has uncovered 10 factories that hired underage workers, and has demanded a change.

Daisey said he saw suicide nets being installed after several overworked employees jumped to their deaths.

"The nets are around halfway up the buildings and run along the edges of the buildings," he said.

Apple audited its Chinese suppliers and in a report, said it consistently sees violations of limits on working hours.

"I really didn't expect to discover people working 32-hour shifts," said Daisey.

Despite his disappointments, Daisey doesn't plan on giving up his devices. He just hopes his play makes consumers aware of the human cost of their purchases.

"I love technology, but I can't love it the way I used to," he said.

Daisey's show at the Seattle Repertory Theatre runs through May 22.