Anyone in Chicago can attest to the fact that we work within a global economy. For decades, or perhaps more than a century, Chicago has been a hub of international business activity. According to business sources we have more than 1,500 foreign-based companies and more than $40 billion in foreign direct investment within our city.
One of the benefits of being employed by a foreign company but working within our national borders, is that our laws apply to employees in terms of workers’ compensation and other employee matters. It is not the same when the situation is reversed. Foreign workers employed by U.S. companies do not enjoy the same workers’ compensation benefits as do those of us in Chicago.
Recently it has been brought to everyone’s attention that injured workers in China are not being treated well by Foxconn, a major manufacturer of Apple products. Even when laws may not have been broken, it could certainly be a public relations disaster for the computer giant.
An injured 26-year-old Foxconn employee was apparently the victim of an electrical shock. He was not electrocuted, but was severely injured and about half of his damaged brain had to be removed. He remains under close observation at a hospital where he is learning to walk and talk again. He has been hospitalized since August 2011.Since July however, Foxconn has been texting the man’s parents and demanding that they remove their son from the hospital and take him miles away for an assessment. They allegedly have been threatening to cut off the funding for his treatment. The 50-year-old father claims that they are stealing their son’s dignity.
This incident is a vivid reminder that sometimes it is necessary to fight for one’s rights. Apparently in China the employee protections laws have fewer teeth and the young man’s treatment is a bitter reminder of that fact.