Even with a formal statement from CEO Tim Cook, its own internal inspections and now an independent audit by the Fair Labor Association, Apple can't appease critics of the working conditions at Foxconn where it manufactures its iProducts. Apple's latest effort sounds promising enough: the gadget company has enlisted an organization founded by anti-sweat shop groups hoping to improve overseas abuses. But, to some, it looks like more of a PR play than action. "The Fair Labor Association is largely a fig leaf," Jeff Ballinger, director of Press for Change, a labor rights group told The New York Times's Steven Greenhouse. And Stinebrickner-Kauffman of SumOfUs.org called it a "decent step at best" and a "whitewashing campaign at worst." The company can't really take any steps at this point, short of making its stuff stateside, that will fix its Foxconn problems because this isn't the type of problem with quick fixes.
Any move Apple makes will look like less-than-genuine public relations disaster control at this point. In part, because that's what Apple is doing. Its monster profits in context of Foxconn's low wages and bad working conditions made the company look like even more of a monster. So Apple publicly acknowledged the scandal, made its factory inspections public and just yesterday put out a very visible press release for this new FLA effort. It wants America to know it's trying, which can come off as nothing more than a gesture.