Apple labor petitioners to make deliveries again next week

The petitions that were delivered to Apple's retail stores last week are coming back for a second round. The group says it's not satisfied with Apple's response. member Sarah Ryan delivers a box filled with signatures to an Apple employee at the Grand Central Terminal store in Manhattan last week.
Roger Cheng/CNET

The group that hand-delivered printed petitions to Apple's retail stores last week plans to come back for round two.

Last week, SumOfUs delivered boxes containing some 250,000 printed signatures from its petition asking Apple to require more "ethical" working conditions from its supply and manufacturing partners. In a statement issued this afternoon, SumOfUs said it plans to do it again.

Next Thursday the group is taking what it calls a "distributed" approach, delivering the same petition to Apple's stores anew. However this time, the group is plans to have "hundreds of its members" do the work at local Apple stores, not just a hand-picked few.

In its release, the group says it was incensed by comments made earlier this week from Fair Labor Association president Auret van Heerden in an interview with Reuters. In that interview, van Heerden described some initial impressions of Foxconn factories the group was looking at as part of an inspection that had been ordered by Apple earlier this month.

"The facilities are first class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm," van Heerden told the news outlet following a visit to the plant.

The group has called out van Heerden and the FLA, saying the comments were off the mark.

"It is inappropriate in the extreme for the FLA to be making any statements whatsoever this early in an allegedly independent investigation," said Taren Stinkebrickner-Kauffman, executive director of SumOfUs in a statement. "So far all they've done is have a guided tour of the premises by Foxconn executives--what exactly were they expecting, that the company would voluntarily show them the dark underbelly of the factory life on the first day?"

The re-delivering of the petitions, which the group says have now been signed by 78,000 SumOfUs members, is set to coincide with Apple's annual shareholders meeting next week in Cupertino, Calif.