By Kevin Bogardus - 02/22/12 08:08 PM EST
The nation's largest labor federation is calling on Apple to improve conditions for the workers who manufacture the company's products.
In an email sent Wednesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka asked activists to sign a petition to tell Apple CEO Tim Cook "to ensure that people integral to Apple’s success — workers who manufacture Apple’s electronics — are treated fairly."
Apple’s labor standards have been in the spotlight following media investigations of Foxconn, an Apple supplier in China. In the AFL-CIO email, Trumka describes low wages, long hours and poor working conditions at the Foxconn facility.
Apple says it is concerned about the working conditions at Foxconn and recently invited the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to conduct audits at the facility.
But Trumka, who called his own iPhone "an incredible piece of machinery," said those audits don’t go far enough.
"We call on Apple to immediately allow genuine unions, with truly independent factory inspections and worker trainings. Trying to brush this under the rug — or hide behind a front group like the FLA — only will make Apple’s PR problems worse," Trumka wrote.
Back in the United States, some Apple workers have expressed interest in forming a union. A website called the Apple Retail Workers Union was created last year.