Liu Puts Pressure On Tech Firms Over Working Conditions

City Comptroller John Liu called on tech giants Dell, Intel, and Motorola to increase their manufacturers’ compliance with human rights standards.

The New York City Pension Fund is one of the largest shareholders in many of these tech companies, and plan to bring the measure to a resolution at the next shareholder meeting unless a deal can be worked out before then.

“Violations of human and workers’ rights, even if by their suppliers, pose operational and reputational risks that these companies cannot ignore,” Mr. Liu said.  “As long term investors we must be concerned about financial risk as well as alignment with basic values. We have a responsibility to ensure that the profits and products that result from free trade are not created by the exploitation of workers in sweat shops, child labor, indentured slavery or other violations of human rights.”

The effort by Liu’s office comes after a rash of suicides at Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer. There have been a number of stories in the press focusing attention on the companies practices, and recently, an off-Broadway show devoted to it.

Mr. Liu notes that Apple, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft all adopted new policies after similar pressure was brought by the comptroller’s office.

It is worth noting here that Mr. Liu has some of his own experience with sweatshops. In campaign ads, Mr. Liu touted his own experience working in a sweatshop where his mother was employed–a story that was later discounted by the candidate’s own mother. Liu Puts Pressure On Tech Firms Over Working Conditions