Tuesday, October 20, 2020

New report says Foxconn was even more of a fraudulent mess than you ever knew

Josh Dzieza of The Verge has been at the front of the line when it comes to exposing the failure of the Foxconn project in Wisconsin. And he has topped himself with this article that hit on Monday. Here's the link. Read it. Read ALL of it. There are some amazing stories and details that I've never seen before, and here's a taster.
Months after the 2018 groundbreaking, the company was racing to hire the 260 people needed to receive the first tranche of payments from the lucrative subsidy package passed by then-Gov. Scott Walker. Recruiters were told to hit the number but given little in the way of job descriptions. Soon, the office began to fill with people who had nothing to do. Many just sat in their cubicles watching Netflix and playing games on their phones. The reality of their situation became impossible to ignore. Multiple employees recall seeing people cry in the office. “The best is when you’re in the elevator with somebody and then they just scream out of nowhere,” said an employee who experienced this several times. “They’ve had enough, because things don’t make sense here.”

“Imagine being in a job where you don’t really know if it’s real or not. Or you know it’s not real, but you don’t know it’s not real. It’s a constant thing you’re doing in your head day after day,” said one employee, who returned to the rented building Trump had spoken at, where workers had been assembling TVs, only to find the line shut down and the lights dimmed a couple of weeks after the photo op was over. “I think all of us were on the verge of a major breakdown.”

It was just the beginning. Foxconn would spend the next two years jumping from idea to idea — fish farms, exporting ice cream, storing boats — in an increasingly surreal search for some way to generate money from a doomed project. Frequent leadership changes, a reluctance to spend money, and a domineering corporate culture would create an atmosphere employees described as toxic. Many of the employees The Verge spoke with have since left the company, and all of them requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation. It has been a baffling ordeal for the people who thought they were building the Silicon Valley of the Midwest — “Wisconn Valley,” Walker called it — all the more so because so many others still believe the vision.
Dzieza also illustrates the recent information released by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) which showed that Foxconn didn't come close to the level of jobs or investment that they promised in 2018 or 2019 - before any of us knew what COVID-19 was.
And let me remind you that in order to get those 291 (temporary) jobs, the state of Wisconsin sped up a $250 million project to expand I-94 near the Foxconn site, and diverted $137 million from the rest of the state's highways to widen and fix up local roads near Foxconn.

In addition, Foxconn also got water and electrical hookups taken care of for them, and Foxconn-area communities used eminent domain to clear out several homes, using tax dollars to reimburse those owners. And wait till state taxpayers have to bail out the Village of Mount Pleasant in a few years when they can't pay for the huge debts they took on to get Foxconn in their community.

And what did we get from all that money and turmoil? Fewer jobs than we'd get from a warehouse or a big-box score. On that subject, Dzieza goes on to describe how Foxconn tried to game their hiring numbers in order to get tax dollars off of Wisconsinites (unsuccessfully, as it turned out). As I've mentioned before, the Foxconn contract is written in such a way that the number of employees that "work" there are counted on December 31, but Foxconn doesn't have to say how many hours those employees worked during the year.

Sure enough, Dzieza says Foxconn tried to bring in a large number of temporary employees last year to show "job growth", in order to get our money.
According to the company’s subsidy application, it employed 580 people at the end of 2019. Sixty percent were hired in the final two months.

The layoffs began with the new year. Starting in January, when the promised LCD factory was originally scheduled to open, Foxconn instead began letting employees go in batches.

“It was a pump and dump,” said an employee. Many of the Wisconsin residents were laid off, as were many of the local college students. Some of Foxconn’s first hires had already left, including Tank Murdoch, who held a golden shovel alongside Trump at the groundbreaking ceremony, and Peter Buck, who often served as the public face of the project and employees say quit in frustration. (Neither returned requests for comment.) An employee involved with recruiting estimated in June that Foxconn’s ranks had fallen by approximately half from its end-of-year peak, with foreign employees making up a large share of those who remained. “Mandarin is spoken more than English on my floor now,” the employee said.
Buck and Murdoch aren't the only people gone from that day.
Only 1 person that's in this picture is in the same job 3 years later...and that last guy seems likely to be looking for work in 3 months as well (if not sooner).

Again, read Josh Dzieza's article in The Verge, because there's plenty of other stuff out there that'll leave you shaking your head. We knew Foxconn was a historical scam, and we kind of knew that this company and their GOP allies were BS'ing us. But I don't think any of us knew how pathetic and flat-out fraudulent this thing is, and every crook who voted for this piece of crap and lied to us for all this time deserves to get the boot in 2 weeks.

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