Foxconn is another Long Trump Con
Walker has turned Wisconsin into China and in the end all of America will get screwed
This week, one of the largest corporate giveaways was announced as Trump and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced a massive deal to bring Foxconn to Wisconsin. Paid for on the backs of Wisconsin taxpayers, this deal is claiming it will bring 3,000 jobs to Paul Ryan’s Congressional District. Perfect timing right. With the Con-Artist-In-Chief involved it’s clear that this deal is turning into just another Trump long con.
While Walker and Trump were praising the deal to bring manufacturing back to the United States with a press conference at the White House and a hate rally at the Milwaukee Art Museum with Walker and Foxconn company executives, Wisconsin taxpayers and economists have begun to worry about the high price tag of the deal. In his announcement of the deal, Walker pledged $3 Billion in subsidies to build a plant that will only employ 3,000 full time workers. The $3 Billion is more than what the state spends on the University of Wisconsin Education System and the state's prison system, both of which have seen huge budgets cuts under the Walker Administration and those two industries employ significantly more people. This deal also means that the taxpayers of Wisconsin will be handing the Chinese company $250,000 per employee hired over the life of the deal. The New York Times reports that the average incentive subsidy is usually $12,457. This deal will be the fourth richest in US history and will be the largest incentive ever given to a foreign company.
In Trump’s statement about the deal, he referred to Foxconn as “one of the truly great companies of the world,” but until this week most Americans had probably never heard of them. The company, which is the main manufacturer of Apple products, has a shady history when it comes to the treatment of its workforce. An investigation into their labor standards found multiple violations including forcing teenagers as young as 14 to work in the factory. While it is supposedly illegal for children to work in Chinese factories, it is legal to hire “interns” who are as young 14. By working with local schools to misclassify these kids as “Interns” they’re able to replace higher priced full-time workers with kids. Investigations found that the company often skirted minimum wage and benefits laws by employing these kids. They also found that they were required to work overtime and night shifts, both of which are violations of Chinese law. These “interns” are forced to work at the factory for three-month periods in order to graduate from their schools.
Foxconn has also seen a rash of suicides from their employees. In 2010 alone, 18 employees tried to commit suicide with 14 actually dying. The suicides are so bad at Foxconn that a Wikipedia page has been created to document the deaths. In an 83-page report that was compiled by 20 Chinese universities, they found that the conditions within the company were a labor camp, or forced labor prison. The report, which interviewed 1,800 employees at 12 different locations, found numerous overtime violations, a failure to report accidents and called the companies treatment of workers inhumane and abusive. Instead of working with the employees to deal with some of the problems that were driving workers to take their own lives the company denied that they had a problem and quietly installed nets to prevent employees from jumping to their deaths. Although never reported, rape is common and violence by management against any workers who speaks up is part of the Foxconn culture.
Trump and Walker have promised that the company will bring at least 3,000 highly skilled, permanent and high paying jobs to Wisconsin. Experts however say that this is just a drop in the bucket to Foxconn, who employs 700,000 people worldwide. Since the rash of suicides, the company has heavily invested in automation. They currently “employ” over 1 million robots at their Chinese factories and recently laid off 60,000 workers.
Christopher Balding, a professor of economics at Peking University, told CNN that "Three thousand jobs to Foxconn is irrelevant, so if they're going to be doing that in the U.S., it's not going to be people on production lines building TVs, it's going to be a small number of people watching robots build TVs."
Once again Trump and Walker have conned the American people. 3,000 jobs sounds great, but they will not be going to the laid off GE workers in Waukesha or to the 300 workers who will be out of work when the Oscar Mayer plant in Madison closes on July 31st; but instead jobs will be doled to highly educated and skilled mechanics who will watch and maintain the robots as they do the majority of the work.
It also isn’t clear if Foxconn will ever actually deliver a single promised job. In Brazil, Foxconn worked out a $12 Billion deal that would have created 100,000 jobs, but the company has never come close to the investment needed to create the jobs. They also committed to spending $10 Billion to produce electronics in Indonesia, but only two years later reduced that commitment to $1 Billion. Five years later, a plant still hasn’t been built. Four years ago, Foxconn committed to spending $30 Million to build a plant in Pennsylvania and like the promises in Brazil and Indonesia the plant was never built. Much like Trump, their promises are often hollow and do not meet expectations. He go some great press and his base once again bought it, but it’s just another empty promise.
With Foxconn’s history of labor issues and the amount of money that Wisconsin taxpayers are spending to bring the jobs to the state, will there be real oversight to protect the workers of Wisconsin. Over the last seven years, Walker has systematically ripped apart labor laws in the state. From making the Cheese Head State Right-to-Work to eliminating prevailing wages. With prevailing wages gone the 16,000 construction jobs that are projected to be created to build the 20 million square foot facility will be a complete shit show. Low wages, no benefits, accidents and you bethca – you can expect a few fatalities. Other negative changes that have occurred include allowing a company to fire an employee who was hurt on the job so that they don’t have to pay disability benefits and an all-out ban on project labor agreements. Walker’s sole mission over the last seven years has been to change the law to better aid employers over employees. With massive cuts coming to the US Labor Department’s enforcement of labor laws – protecting workers will be left up to the state and with a dangerous company like Foxconn that likes to play fast and loose with the law, can the 3,000 new employees rely on the state to protect them? It seems like Foxconn came looking for a state with weak labor laws where they could get away with the same labor violations they got away with in China. Sadly, to the world, our Wisconsin is the same as China. This should not only sadden Americans, this should anger them as well.
Immediately after the deal was reached both Trump and Walker began the parade of lies and decpetion. While Foxconn is projecting to create 3,000 jobs, and the tax breaks are contingent on creating 3,000 jobs, Walker and Trump are touting a possible 13,000 jobs that could be created. Meanwhile all statements from the company affirm the 3,000 number. Since the company seems to be cutting human jobs in favor of robots, it also seems unlikely that they will quadruple the number of people that they hire. Trump is also parading around claiming credit for the company coming to the United States, but Chinese investment in the United States has been ballooning over the last few years. As robots drive down the cost of manufacturing in the United States, it has become more cost effective for production to move back especially for delicate products like LCD screens that don’t ship well.
With a history of labor violations and a record amount of money being spent to bring a relatively small amount of jobs to Wisconsin, this deal look likes another Trump long con. After giving away the farm, Walker and Trump are already lying about how many jobs will be created. Add to that the fact that Foxconn has a history of conning a lot of different countries, at the very least, the residents and workers in Wisconsin will be made worse off. With such a large investment, taxpayers and Packer fans will be paying for this factory for years to come, with some economist saying that the state will never get back its’ investment in economic development. There is also no guarantee that once the subsidies run out, Foxconn won’t head for the door. If the factory is built, the workers who are hired will be working for a company with a history of injuring and killing workers and not paying their workforce. It’s just like the 80’s Reagen era movie “Gung Ho” with Michael Keaton – except it’s not funny and there will be no happy ending. Add to this the fact that Walker and Trump seem to care less about labor standards and this is a recipe for just another long Trump con and once again we all bought it.
Brian Young and Katie Hogan contributed to this story.