Challenging the Chip:
Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the
Global Electronics Industry

Eds. Ted Smith, David A. Sonnenfeld, David Naguib Pellow, and Leslie A. Byster

Foreword by Jim Hightower

Scores of people around the world have been involved over the course of several years in the conceptualization, development, editing, and production of this volume. The "Global Symposium on Strategies for a Sustainable High-Tech Industry," held November 2002 in San Jose, California, in which this volume has its origins, was sponsored by the International Coalition for Responsible Technology (ICRT), and hosted by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC). That symposium could not have taken place without financial support from the University of California's Institute for Labor and Employment (ILE), the University of California at Berkeley's Institute for International Studies (IIS), and others. To the participants and supporters of that conference, the editors of this volume would like to express their enduring thanks.

Subsequently, the ILE, through a Collaboration and Dissemination Grant, supported a series of editorial workshops in San Diego, California; Wageningen, the Netherlands; and Chiang Mai, Thailand, involving contributors to this volume and others. Other organizations supported those workshops, as well: California Cultures in Comparative Perspective at the University of California, San Diego; the Environmental Policy Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands; Washington State University; and the SVTC. Those workshops were critical in further developing the chapters in this book, as well as connections between contributors and others worldwide. The editors acknowledge and thank all participants in and supporters of those far-flung workshops.

Thirty-two contributors worked very hard with few complaints and much dedication to develop their chapters for this volume. They put up with gentle and not-so-gentle reminders and prodding to complete their manuscripts, add references, and strengthen arguments, even while continuing their intensive, day-to-day involvements addressing many of the problems and issues they were writing about. Thirteen individuals contributed to this volume not only as writers but also as manuscript reviewers: Leslie Byster, Shenglin Chang, Anibel Ferus-Comelo, Ken Geiser, Amanda Hawes, Boy Lüthje, Glenna Matthews, Jim Puckett, Wen-ling Tu, Kishore Wankhade, Andrew Watterson, David Wood, and Fumikazu Yoshida. Byster, Chang, Hawes, Tu, and Watterson went even further, contributing also as section and/or manuscript editors. Leslie Byster played a key role in making this book possible in other ways as well, from organizing the conference that brought contributors together in 2002, to the non-trivial task of coordinating permissions and source material for the photographs in this volume. Regrettably, we were too late in formally recognizing Leslie’s contributions to include her as a co-editor; had we been able to do so without delaying production of the book, we would have done so. The editors would like to express their deep appreciation and heartfelt thanks to all; this book would not be without you.

Others, too, played a critical role in the development and quality production of this volume. More than a dozen distinguished colleagues from around the world generously donated their time and expertise as peer reviewers on draft chapters. Their thoughtful and constructive comments were important in pointing out weak spots and suggesting ways the authors might further develop their arguments and presentation, resulting in much strengthened contributions. External reviewers included: Tamara Barber, Sander van den Berg, Garrett Brown, Angana Chatterji, Kyle Eischen, Koichi Hasegawa, Karen Hossfeld, Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao, Kris van Koppen, Ching Kwan Lee, Kate O’Neill, Dara O’Rourke, Ruth Pearson, Alvin So, and Ryoichi Terada. At the request of Temple University Press, J. Timmons Roberts, Director of the Program in Environmental Science and Policy at the College of William and Mary, Virginia, and an additional, anonymous, peer reviewer took hours from full lives and busy schedules to read the entire book manuscript, make extensive notes, and communicate helpful suggestions that improved the quality and clarity of the volume. Colleagues in our "home" institutions also put up with and supported our obsessive, long-term involvement with this book project, and will be greatly relieved, and we hope appreciative, to see the final product.

Among the many who have supported this collaborative, action research writing effort, a few merit special mention and appreciation: Peter Olney, former Associate Director of the University of California, Institute for Labor and Employment; Rajah Rasiah, Professor of Technology and Innovation Policy, University of Malaya, Malaysia; and Voravidh Charoenloet, former Director of the Center for Political Economy, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. Peter Wissoker, former Senior Editor with Temple University Press, was a strong and effective advocate of this volume from the beginning; his support was greatly appreciated. Coming on well along in the process, William Hammell did a remarkable job of taking over editing of this volume at Temple, and effectively shepherded it into print. Donna Maurer, a professional editor did a splendid job of helping to make the text more readable and consistent throughout the volume. Heather Dubnik contributed her considerable skills and experience in constructing the index. Tamara Barber graciously assisted with translation of Raquel Partida's chapter; Kenji Liu and Henry Norr made insightful and caring editorial suggestions. The cover design benefited from the creative inputs of Innosanto Nagara of Design Action, Gopal Dayaneni, and Alfie Ebojo. Our apologies to anyone overlooked.

Lastly, it should be noted that the views reflected in this work are those of the individual authors, not necessarily of the editors, nor of our home institutions. We do, nevertheless, take full responsibility for the final form in which the various parts of this work are presented.

The Editors

San Jose, California; Richland, Washington; San Diego, California, USA

April, 2006


Book Abstract/ Homepage

Table of Contents


Publisher's Website

-- Press Release

-- Foreword and Chapter 1 [pdf]

On the Web


Korean edition



Webpage by David A. Sonnenfeld, SUNY-ESF

last updated May 20, 2014