Are You Listening, Tim Cook? Major Protest at Apple’s Flagship Manhattan “Cube” Store Calls on Apple to Stop Poisoning Chinese Workers

Source: Photographer

Tens Of Thousands of Consumers Have Taken Action To End “Smartphone Sweatshops” to Ensure Their Phones Are Not Causing Worker Harm.

April 25, 2014

New York, NY – April 25, 2014 – Today a significant number gathered to participate in a demonstration calling on Apple to stop the poisoning of workers who make iPhones and other Apple products.  The two groups organizing the protest – Green America and China Labor Watch (CLW) – held this demonstration at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in New York City, one Apple’s most profitable and iconic retail locations.  Protesters yelled, “Hey hey! Ho ho! toxic benzene’s got to go!” and “Mr. Cook, don’t be a twit! Stop making Chinese workers sick!”.

The protest occurred just three days before International Workers’ Memorial Day, honoring workers around the world who have been injured or died as a result of their jobs.  The protest stemmed from the “Bad Apple Campaign,” launched jointly by Green America and CLW on March 12, 2014. To date, the campaign has collected nearly seventeen thousand signatures urging Apple’s CEO Tim Cook to remove dangerous chemicals in an effort to protect the young Chinese workers who manufacture Apple’s products. See for more information.  Additionally, more than 750,000 have watched the campaign’s associated film Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics.

“Apple is seen as the smartphone pioneer and has led within its industry by using more renewable energy and reducing conflict minerals, however, to truly be the leader, Apple needs to ensure that none of the workers who make its products are put at risk”, said Green America Campaigns Director Elizabeth O’Connell.  “Apple is a highly profitable company who can afford to ensure that the lives of the Chinese workers who assemble its products are protected just as much as workers in the US.”

The protest’s location at Apple’s “Cube” store, near Central Park, is significant in that the store is one of Apple’s most profitable retail locations, grossing more than $350 million per year.  Industry experts estimate that Apple could remove benzene and other dangerous chemicals from production for as little as $1 dollar per device. 

Smartphones and other electronics are made with thousands of chemicals, many of which are known to be harmful to human health such as benzene or n-hexane.  Occupational exposure to benzene can lead to leukemia.  Apple is profiting at the expense of the workers who assemble their iconic products in China, even though safer chemical alternatives are available.  The campaign is calling on Apple to lead the way in protecting worker health and safety.

In April 2012, Greenpeace hosted an action at this store to call attention to Apple’s wasteful energy practices. As a result, one year later, Apple announced a plan to use 100% renewable energy at its data centers.   



Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses, investors, and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems.

Founded in 2000, China Labor Watch is an independent not-for-profit organization. CLW has collaborated with unions, labor organizations and the media to hundreds of in-depth assessments of factories in China that produce toys, bikes, shoes, furniture, clothing, and electronics for some of the largest U.S. companies. CLW’s New York office creates reports from these investigations, educates the international community on supply chain labor issues, and pressures corporations to improve conditions for workers.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Elizabeth O’Connell. 704.582.3634.