From “Apple is lobbying against a bill aimed at stopping forced labor in China” posted by the Washington Post Friday afternoon:
Apple lobbyists are trying to weaken a new law aimed at preventing forced labor in China, according to two congressional staffers familiar with the matter, highlighting the clash between its business imperatives and its official stance on human rights.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would require U.S. companies to guarantee they do not use imprisoned or coerced workers from the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, where academic researchers estimate the Chinese government has placed more than 1 million people into internment camps. Apple is heavily dependent on Chinese manufacturing, and human rights reports have identified instances in which alleged forced Uighur labor has been used in Apple’s supply chain.
“What Apple would like is we all just sit and talk and not have any real consequences,” said Cathy Feingold, director of the international department for the AFL-CIO, which has supported the bill. “They’re shocked because it’s the first time where there could be some actual effective enforceability.”
Apple spokesperson Josh Rosenstock said the company “is dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect. We abhor forced labor and support the goals of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. We share the committee’s goal of eradicating forced labor and strengthening U.S. law, and we will continue working with them to achieve that.” He said the company earlier this year “conducted a detailed investigation with our suppliers in China and found no evidence of forced labor on Apple production lines, and we are continuing to monitor this closely.”
Apple’s lobbying firm, Fierce Government Relations, disclosed that it was lobbying on the bill on behalf of Apple in a disclosure form that was first reported by the Information. However, the form did not say whether Apple was for or against the bill or whether it wanted to modify it in any way. Lobbying disclosure forms do not require that information. Fierce referred The Washington Post to Apple’s public relations team.
My take: The article goes on to say that the bill is aimed primarily at the textile industry and that unlike Patagonia, Coca-Cola and Costco, Apple is not named in it. But still. Apple has worked too hard to clean up its supply chain to put its reputation in the hands of a company called Fierce Government Relations.