They work till they drop.

They stand until their legs swell and they can’t walk, and they perform repetitive motions on the production line for so long that some permanently lose the use of their hands

According to the New York Times, that’s what life is like for people working at a factory in Shenzhen, China, where Apple manufactures iPhones, iPads and other devices. To cut costs, managers even make workers use cheap chemicals that cause neurological damage.

Apple is hyper-conscious of its brand and reputation — so after this unprecedented international scrutiny, they’re scrambling to persuade the world they care about their employees. There’s never been a better time to demand Apple look after its employees.

Mark Shields, a self-described member of the “cult of Mac,” started a global petition on Change.org demanding Apple exert its influence on its suppliers to improve working conditions — click here to sign Mark’s petition right now.

Conditions are so bad, that there has been a rash of suicides at the Foxconn plant, and 300 workers recently threatened to jump off the roof over a safety and pay dispute.

In short, as one former Apple executive told the New York Times“Most people would be really disturbed if they saw where their iPhone comes from.”

But Apple knows it can play an important role in ensuring safe and fair working conditions for the workers at its suppliers, like Foxconn. Since 2005, the company has performed hundreds of audits of their Chinese suppliers — exposing numerous violations.

But that’s where Apple’s commitment falters: the number of supplier violations has held steady year to year and Apple hasn’t consistently publicly stated which suppliers have problems or dropped offending suppliers.

Click here to sign Mark’s petition demanding Apple change the way it does business.

The bottom line, Apple executives admit, is that they’re not being forced to change.

One current executive told the New York Times that there’s a trade-off: “You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories,” he said, or you can “make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards.

And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China.”

That means public pressure is the only thing that can force Apple to ensure its suppliers treat workers humanely. If enough people sign Mark’s petition — and tell Apple they care more about human beings than they do about how fast the company can produce the next generation iPhone — the company could be convinced to make real change for the workers at Foxconn and other factories. Sign the petition now.

Thanks for being part of this,

Nick and the Change.org team

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