266303 Confronting OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH Problems IN the Electronics Industry THROUGH AN International EFFORT to REDUCE Cellphone Purchases

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Howard Waitzkin, MD, PhD , Department of Sociology and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Mira Lee, MD , Occupational Health Interest Group, Doctors for Humanity, Busan, South Korea
Jeong-ok Kong, MD, MPH , Department of Research, Korea Institute of Labor Safety and Health, Supporters for Health and Rights of People in Semiconductor Industry, Seoul, South Korea
The Samsung Group has emerged as one of the world's largest and most powerful multinational corporations. In 2010, its total assets amounted to more than US$340 billion, with annual revenues of about US$220 billion and annual income of US$21 billion. Samsung focuses on electronics, but it also owns subsidiaries that deal with shipbuilding, telecommunications, construction projects, insurance and financial services, chemicals, retail stores, entertainment, clothing, and medical services. Samsung has received wide criticism from organizations concerned about public health, labor rights, the environment, and fair trade. In particular, the company's long-standing policy that prohibits union organizing has attracted critical attention. Another major struggle has focused on Samsung's record in workers' health. For instance, occupational health researchers and activists have called attention to clusters of leukemia and other cancers among Samsung's South Korean electronics workers. In 2012, Samsung ranked third in a major report on the world's most dangerous corporations. To improve Samsung's practices, one effort targets organizations that purchase Samsung products. Such an organization, Credomobile, buys Samsung cellphones that it provides “free” or sells to its subscribers. This collaboration with Samsung appears to contradict Credomobile's “progressive” corporate policies that support labor rights, public health, and environmental justice. This presentation will review systematically the results of several research projects that demonstrate deleterious occupational health consequences of Samsung's policies. In addition, the session will explore strategies to change those policies, including international efforts to influence U.S.-based organizations that buy Samsung's products.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Explain the characteristics of a corporation, based in South Korea, whose electronics workers have experienced clusters of occupational cancers. Analyze a U.S. cellphone company’s decisions to purchase products from this South Korean corporation. Analyze data from research projects that demonstrate the deleterious occupational health consequences of the South Korean corporation’s policies. Describe strategies to change the corporation’s policies, through international efforts to reduce purchases by U.S.-based organizations of cellphones produced by the South Korean corporation.

Keywords: Occupational Health, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I initiated this presentation after a collaboration with public health and occupational health colleagues in South Korea. I have a long background of research, activism, and teaching in occupational health, including pertinent parts of my recent book, Medicine and Public Health at the End of Empire. Recently I have served as a reviewer for the Internal Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.