Wracked by weeks of bad press over the conditions under which its products are made, this month Apple called in the Fair Labor Association. “We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a February 13 release, “which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers.”
Cook promised inspections “unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in size and scope…” Two days later, FLA President Auren van Heerden told Reuters that so far he had found the FoxConn facilities—where workers had recently threatened mass suicide —“first class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm.”
Perhaps this should not have been a surprise. Corporations turn to the FLA during scandals for the same reasons celebrities turn to Larry King: it’s high-profile, it’s establishment-approved, and it won’t press as hard as the alternatives.