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Chinese build factories in U.S., creating jobs and tensions - Poor Wages Bad Working Conditions

Posted By: RumorMail
Date: Friday, 11-Sep-2015 19:37:19
www.rumormillnews.com

What did you expect. TY NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO. Soon we will all be peons working at some dirty factory.

*********************

snip

Chen, who employs about 200 locals, manages the first U.S. factory built by Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group Inc. with a $120 million investment in Wilcox County, one of the poorest counties in Alabama. The state coughed up around $20 million, outbidding dozens of other cities and states hoping for the jobs and investments.

Last year, Chinese companies plowed $12 billion into the U.S., up from zero in the early 2000s, making it the fastest-growing source of foreign direct investment in the country. Chinese-affiliated companies now employ more than 80,000 Americans, according to New York-based Rhodium Group, which tracks cross-border investment.

As Gene Poteat, past president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers in Falls Church, Virginia, put it, “China’s belligerent expansion into geographical areas claimed by others, their harassment of international flights and their continuous hacking into American cybernetworks has not gone unnoticed.”

The Chinese have their own set of worries.

Golden Dragon chose Alabama to bring it closer to clients in the South and avoid anti-dumping tariffs on copper products. But it was caught unaware by the attitudes of some of the workers and the demands of the trade union.

“Individualism is strong among U.S. workers,” Qiao Gaopan, a 37-year-old Golden Dragon engineer, said pointedly. “They don’t listen to you but have lots of opinions.”

James Deshler, a 29-year-old machinist working at the plant since March 2014, blames cultural differences and language barriers for most of the problems at the company. He said he gets into constant arguments with Chinese colleagues over cleanliness in the restrooms, even the right way to fix a leaking pipe.

And although tens of millions of China’s workers belong to trade unions, those groups have no say on pay or conditions. The inverse is true in Alabama, a right-to-work state where barely one-tenth of workers belong to unions — though those unions nonetheless wield real power. That created some tensions for Golden Dragon.

When it set up shop a year ago, the company offered workers $11 an hour, less than the $18 paid by a similar factory in Mississippi, according to Daniel Flippo of United Steelworkers. There were also complaints about safety and lack of training and promotion, Flippo said.

As a result, and despite pressure from state and company officials, the workers voted to unionize.

Chen, 33, argued that $11 was only a starting salary for workers with no experience. Either way, Golden Dragon ended up increasing its wages and changing earlier restrictive rules, including a badge-in system and limited sick leave. It also dealt with a complaint over safety. Chen, who studied in Britain and led the company’s factory in Mexico before coming to Wilcox, took over in May.

Apart from Golden Dragon’s Wilcox facility, which produces 100 million pounds (45 million kilograms) of copper tubing annually, Alabama is also home to two other Chinese companies: Continental Motors, which makes piston engines for aircraft in Mobile; and Shandong Swan USA Inc., which makes saws for cotton gins in Montgomery.

Elsewhere, Sany Group Co., China’s largest maker of heavy equipment, has invested $60 million in a factory in Peachtree City, Georgia, pledging 500 jobs. And Wanxiang Group Corp., China’s biggest maker of auto parts, has 28 factories in 14 states.


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AN EXPLANATION OF THE FACTIONS