By Francesca James

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently announced that Apple plans to move some manufacturing to the United States in 2013, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman has referred to the announcement as 'a public relations stunt'

“Apple has a track record of announcing changes in its supply chain as PR stunts. For years, Apple’s been making and breaking promises when it comes to ethical sourcing and how it treats its workers. This spring Apple’s biggest supplier published a far-reaching report that promised to make massive changes in how Apple products are made over the course of this year -- and yet we’ve seen no virtually improvement in workers’ lives.

“Apple has an ethical obligation to make sure that all workers in its supply chain have humane working conditions, a living wage, and aren’t forced into illegal overtime. Moving part of its supply chain back to the US is not going to change the fact that its business model rests on the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers in sweatshop-like conditions. Workers there are paid well below a living wage, forced to work illegal amounts of overtime, and often work in very unsafe and unhealthy conditions. Workers making iPads and iPhones have suffered from nerve damage from chemical exposure and died in explosions due to unsafe factory conditions. Apple can’t just nibble around the edges of this problem with PR stunts or minor changes. It needs to clean up its entire supply chain, or risk losing all credibility.

“Apple has spent $650 million just on advertising for the iPhone alone since it launched. They’re talking about spending less than 20% of that on this shift. They’re talking about moving 1/10th of 1 percent of their global production costs. Apple is clearly aware that they have a PR problem. That’s not at the level of a fundamental business model shift. They’re making a small token offering to appease consumers here in the US. Is it a coincidence that Tim Cook is announcing this move just before the holiday shopping season? I think this is a really savvy PR stunt by a corporation that has no actual intentions of cleaning up its supply chain. And I hope consumers aren’t taken in by it, but instead demand evidence of actual change from Apple.”