NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- While the death of Apple's ( AAPL) Steve Jobs last week continues to draw an outpouring of grief and condolences, Mike Daisey has a much darker story to tell. Daisey, the star of the one-man show The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which made its New York premiere this week at The Public Theater, doesn't just praise the brilliance of the Apple founder who has been credited with changing the world and the face of technology.
Rather, the self-proclaimed "Apple partisan, fanboy and worshipper" takes a far more critical tone during his two-hour long monologue, weaving together the history of Apple and Jobs' ascent to Silicon Valley rock star with anecdotes from his own trip to southern China, where he posed as an American businessman to visit the electronics factories where products like the iPhone and iPad are produced. Daisey discussed some of these same experiences in an op-ed piece in The New York Times on Oct. 6. While in China, Daisey said he witnessed horrific labor conditions, where workers as young as 12 toiled for 16-hour shifts and were fired for not making quotas. Daisey also said he met individuals whose hands were crippled from repeating the same motions over and over during shifts, who were blacklisted for requesting overtime wages and crammed with over a dozen other workers into tiny dormitory-style bunk beds where cameras captured their every move. Daisey was especially critical of Foxconn, one of Apple's main contractors, which has been forced to install nets to deal with a rash of suicides at its plants within the last year and where a worker died after a 34-hour shift. The experience, he said, shed light on products he used and loved every day but which he never stopped to think about how they were assembled. "These
factory workers are serfs," he said. "Our entire way of life depends on these people not being free." Daisey said his job isn't to pass judgment on consumers who choose to purchase the just-unveiled iPhone 4S, although he isn't shelling out for the upgrade this time around. He simply wants individuals to realize these products are made by real people, not robots, and that purchasing the latest-and-greatest electronics has consequences.
He encouraged the audience to write to new CEO Tim Cook to advocate for independent verification of working conditions in Apple's factories and to educate themselves about the ways in which large U.S. electronics companies abuse Chinese workers. Daisey didn't address Jobs' passing until the end of the show -- and rather than an outpouring of emotion about the man he called "my hero ... the only hero I ever had," he kept a biting tone. "When you sit in front of a laptop," he said, "you will see the blood welling up between the keys, because they were made by hands -- human hands, hands of children." Apple wasn't immediately available for comment on the show, which Daisey began performing in 2010. -- Written by Olivia Oran in New York. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/Ozoran. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.