2 min read

Non-profit think tank takes aim at Apple

Channel Strategy

Who is Isaac Shapiro? And, why should the channel hear what he has to say about Apple Computer Inc. and its $137 billion in cash reserves?

Shapiro is a research associate for the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), an independent, non-profit think tank based in Washington, D.C. that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States. Shapiro has expertise in regulation, labour policy, poverty and income trends and tax policy. He started working for EPI in 2011 to examine the economic effects of government regulation.

Shapiro asks the question: should Apple use its cash reserves to keep its promises and fairly compensate its workers?

He says that the debate over what Apple should do with its $137 billion cash reserve has been narrowly focused on how it should be used to reward Apple shareholders. Shapiro argues that some of Apple’s excess cash should be given to their Foxconn workers in China.

Apple has been hit hard in past year with worker suicides and riots at some of its manufacturing plants in Asia.

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Foxconn plans further pay increase to stop suicides

Shapiro has written a length article on this issue. You can read it here: $45+ billion for Apple shareholders, Nothing yet for Apple workers

It is Shapiro’s contention Apple’s stockholders have done extraordinarily well, while Apple’s factory workers face harsh working conditions, long hours and low pay.

According to Shapiro, in 2012 Apple promised to make major improvements in working conditions and to compensate workers for the hours of unpaid overtime they have been forced to work.

To date, Shapiro says Apple has failed to meet many of these promises. Apple could use its cash reserves to keep its retroactive pay promise, as well as to help its suppliers increase wages to offset decreases in work hours, to improve safety conditions in its factories, and to narrow the pay gap between Apple Store employees in the United States and other young college graduates.

He concludes: given the size of the cash reserve, perhaps Apple’s shareholders deserve further rewards, but significant shares of the reserve should be used to compensate the workers making and selling Apple products who have not been fairly treated.