Lobbyists with Apple are attempting to curb legislation that would require U.S. companies to guarantee that they are not employing workers from a region of China where human rights abuses have been alleged, according to two congressional staffers.
The Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act, sponsored by Rep. James McGovern, would impose “various restrictions related to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region” and sanction those responsible for “human rights violations there.”
AFL-CIO international director Cathy Feingold, who has supported the passage of the bill, said Apple officials are “shocked” at the pushback leveled at them and other companies that have allegedly used labor from the region that is home to China’s largest Muslim population, the Uighurs, according to the Washington Post.
“What Apple would like is we all just sit and talk and not have any real consequences,” Feingold said. “They’re shocked because it’s the first time where there could be some actual effective enforceability.”
Human rights reports out of China have alleged the use of forced Uighur labor by Apple manufacturers, a claim that the tech giant has downplayed.
“[Apple] is dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect,” Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock told the Washington Post. “We abhor forced labor and support the goals of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. We share the committee’s goal of eradicating forced labor and strengthening U.S. law, and we will continue working with them to achieve that.”