First of all, I want to point you to this article by Madison native Lawrence Tabak, which illustrates how Foxconn’s plants in America REALLY operate.
Indiana native Carl Williams spent a year and a half between 2008 and 2010 at Foxconn’s Plainfield facility as a quality technician and later a data analyst. He reveals that a majority of the 900 workers who were employed at the computer assembly factory during his tenure there were undocumented. “On days when word got out that Immigration [and Customs Enforcement] was coming,” he says, “most of the workforce would be missing.” Williams also describes a “wink and nod” attitude by management toward the use of undocumented workers as the facility declined to be certified as an e-verified workplace (an internet based system of checking worker identification). According to Williams, management acted on the pretense that they simply weren’t aware of, and certainly not responsible for, the documentation status of the bulk of the workforce. Williams added that management appeared to be more interested in rock-bottom wages, dodging the cost of expensive benefits, and maintaining their ability to lay off and rehire for seasonal demand.Bad enough, but note that keeping Americans employed in good working conditions hasn't been Foxconn's priority in Indiana. WHy would we expect any different in Wisconsin, especially when the Foxconn bill still has ZERO minimum requirements for job creation?
Andre Morris, who was a Foxconn employee in Indiana from 2005 to 2013, confirms the large number of undocumented workers at the Plainfield facility and also recalls the sea of empty chairs when there were rumors of an impending ICE raid. While he admits to having some success there, working his way up to manager after beginning his career toiling on the assembly line, Morris feels his opportunity for advancement was limited because he was African-American, reporting that he saw only white and Asian people above him. “There’s just not enough opportunity,” he says, when asked if he would recommend working at Foxconn, adding that his most vivid memory was the endless, repetitive work in stifling summer heat in an airless warehouse without air conditioning.
Tabak also notes that Walker's talk of 13,000 seems to be completely bogus. You could figure out it is BS through simple observation of how many people they employ at their current LCD plants, along in the fact that Foxconn never came close to promising Walker and WEDC that amount of jobs.
Foxconn’s original proposal to Wisconsin is also telling. Before the jobs number swelled to 13,000, Foxconn initially proposed 2,000 jobs — incidentally, the same number of workers currently employed at Foxconn’s LCD factory complex in Sakai, Japan, the largest and most advanced LCD factory in the world. The LCD plant itself was up and running with 1,000 workers. Boosters of the Wisconsin deal have visions of the working lines at the old Chrysler and GM factories in Kenosha and Janesville, where motivated high school graduates could make a living wage. But the few images and inside descriptions we have of the Sakai plant, by far the best model for what the Wisconsin factory will look like, show engineers and technicians behind computer terminals overseeing the work of giant robotic machines…
Williams’s experience at Foxconn, which in addition to the Plainfield factory includes a stint at a Foxconn plant in Juarez, Mexico, is instructive. “If you looked out over a floor of 6,000 workers and saw 50 or so Asians, you knew right away who were the engineers and bosses,” he says. Williams describes a colleague still at the Indiana plant, well qualified for a promotion, who has repeatedly seen his next step up blocked by the newest arrival from Asia….
As for the jobs that would go to Wisconsinites, a look at Foxconn’s Houston factory might also be telling. Based on job listings and anecdotal information from workers, Houston assembly workers generally start at the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and report being stuck at that level for years, even as they work many hours of overtime. Like the Indiana operation, the Houston location is reported to be reliant on temp agencies. Here’s what Williams predicts: “Foxconn may bring 9-12,000 jobs to Wisconsin. The facility will be staffed 90 percent by an uneducated and unskilled workforce, for as cheaply as the local economy allows.”
Sure, if Foxconn didn’t pay those employees $30,000 a year, they wouldn’t be eligible for the 17% writeoff from the state. But it’s possible that Foxconn may decide that underpaying workers is worth trading in the tax credits for, and if they paid that low of a wage, it would be likely that those employees would be eligible for Badgercare and other forms of assistance because they fall under the poverty line (aka “The Wal-Mart method” of loading the social costs of a company’s low wages onto the taxpayers).
That Wal-Mart mentality of making governments pay their costs was a big reason why Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian announced today that the City will not continue bidding for the Foxconn facility. It's possible some of this is ass-covering due to the fact that Racine County seems likely to get the plant anyway (if it ever happens), but Antaramian notes that a change in TIF laws that could allow Foxconn to avoid property taxes for 30 years was a big factor.
Although certain issues regarding the Tax Incremental District (TID) financing law have been addressed, many others have not. Issues not related to certain types of expenditures allowed from the TID, limitations of specific amounts allowed for reimbursement from TID tax increments, uncontrolled incorporation of Towns, specific funding rules regarding Water Utilities, impacts to the State’s Levy Limit law and the Expenditure Restraint program have all been ignored.State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and State Sen. Chris Larson both noted this problem, where those extra costs get paid for by homeowners in those cities who aren’t getting a TID) while Foxconn gets away with paying basically nothing. When you look at it this way, and when you combine it with the $252 million in borrowing to speed up work on I-94 South, the taxpayer costs of the Fox-con go well beyond the $3 billion that could be paid for the facility’s construction and the bags of cash that would be given to Foxconn for hiring people.
Based upon the current status of the legislative bill which addresses the Project, the City of Kenosha regrets that we will not be able to support this development in our community. We wish you, the State and Foxconn all the best in finding reasonable resolutions to all of the issues surrounding the project.
I also noted that during debate today, State Sen. Alberta Darling (R- Xanax/Vodka) claimed that the Foxconn bill wouldn’t change Wisconsin’s environmental laws, and she was rebuked by Sen. Jon Erpenbach and other Dems on the Senate floor. Anyone who has read the Foxconn bill knows that environmental rules are carved out for the “Enterprise zone” that the facility would be located in, and Darling presided over the Joint Finance hearing where that very issue was discussed. Bertie Dahhh-ling is either lying, or the senility has hit full force with her. Either way, it’s unacceptable.
Look, I'm under no illusions that this "piece of crap" (as Erpenbach accurately called it) will be eventualy passed by this bought-off Legislature and signed by our desperate governor. But that shouldn't stop any of us from continuing to draw attention to what a sketchy and regressive plan this is, and hang it around the necks of the 95+% of GOP legislators who have voted for it, along with the lifetime grifter Guv who thought the voters were stupid enough to accept this scam at face value.