Not Everyone Thrilled About Opening Of New Grand Central Apple Store

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — New York City will get its latest Apple store on Friday with the opening of the much-anticipated Grand Central Terminal location.

Not everyone is thrilled, however.

1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer With More On The Story

A planned protest outside of the grand opening will be aimed at highlighting minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are used in many electronics.

An online petition launched on wants Apple to commit to building an iPhone and other devices without gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten mined in eastern Congo.

The country has been entangled in years of war and a humanitarian crisis that has left almost 3 million people dead by some estimates.

“Government troops and militias fight to control these mines and in the process they do really awful things — like murdering and raping civilians,” Charlotte Hill, of, told 1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer.

Like “blood diamonds,” a term the United Nations describes as stones that “originate from areas controlled by forced or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments,” demonstrators say the commodities are “blood minerals.”

Hill said the movement started with a man in the Congo, who created an petition on their site demanding Apple become the first electronics company to pledge to use “conflict-free” minerals.

So far, 10,000 people have signed it. Hill said every time someone new signs the petition, an email is sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Organizers expect about a couple dozen protesters at the main concourse Friday.

While there was no response from Apple on Thursday, former CEO Steve Jobs told a concerned customer: “Until someone invents a way to chemically trace minerals from the source mine, it’s a very difficult problem.”

Meanwhile, the Apple store at Grand Central has also drawn criticism recently for what some called a “sweetheart deal” with the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

At its current New York flagship store on Fifth Avenue, Apple pays what’s called “percentage rent,” which involves sharing revenue with its private landlord. That figure is reportedly in the ballpark of $15 million per year.

However, at Grand Central the landlord is the MTA, which collects “percentage rent” from every retailer except Apple. That is because the retailer cut a deal with the MTA for a straight lease, totaling about $1 million a year.

The MTA said its leverage to negotiate with Apple was limited because no other company made an offer on the space.

“We believe we have maximized the potential revenue from this unique opportunity in light of Apple’s policy not to enter into new percentage rent agreements,” an MTA spokesperson said.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below…

  • Rachel

    The solution to bringing stability to the Congo is not to have companies like Apple, which are generally accountable and responsible to their customers, draw out of Congo and stop using its minerals. When companies like Apple pull out, thousands of Congolese lose their jobs (which does not contribute to stability), and the mineral economies on the ground become more thoroughly criminalized. Apple leaving means there is an increased market share for shady transnational networks and for armed groups to move in and control more mines.

    Instead of pushing for Apple to not use minerals from Congo, it is better for domestic consumers to pressure Apple to invest more in Congo by complementing their purchase of minerals with investing in increasing safety standards in mines, investing in infrastructure projects such as roads and in social programs such as education in the community (especially beyond the primary school level), and health clinics, or by paying for Congolese doctors to go to medical school and return to their communities.

    Steve Jobs was exactly right when he said, as above, “Until someone invents a way to chemically trace minerals from the source mine, it’s a very difficult problem.” Criminal and non-criminal trading networks operating in Congo will continue to smuggle out its resources, and tracking mechanisms are impossible. Let’s use our power as consumers not to demand that companies abandon Congo, but to demand that they engage in increasingly responsible ways.

    Please see information put out by the Pole Institute, a Congolese research group in Goma: Be sure to get information from places on the ground like Pole, not only from international NGOs that have varying levels of sophistication in their knowledge of how the conflict has played out and how societies are affected.

  • Frank

    There’s a slight problem with this article. Steve Jobs has been dead for some time now.

    • Sjax

      Well then it’s a breaking story, isn’t it?

    • CSI

      This is an issue that has been going on for some time now and they quoted those words from when he was alive and they first started with the whole protesting.

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