Battle of the Cultures in Getting the Job Done

Two completely different cultures trying to understand one another. I have worked for Japanese, Korean, and German management. How the Japanese and Koreans addressed me was far different than how they address the workers of their descent. The Germans were far more open than the other two cultures.

Overhead Costs; TSMC may not be burdened by the same overhead costs which are included in US Labor’s pay. This is one reason they may wish to bring their own Labor to the US.

Labor: Hourly Labor Wages are higher in the US. You can bet, they will not pay the US wage to their Labor forces in the US. If the US could force them to pay the same rate, this may make them change their mind. US Labor is also far more independent than their own Labor force. Using a union workforce reinforces the independence.

Unwillingness to share plans: This is not unusual to me either. I was driving my Korean associates to a place on the northeast side outside of Detroit. For an hour I was driving and I finally turned around and started to head home. Suddenly, they started talking telling me it was a short ways away. They would not tell me why we were going there. Afterwards, it was to find a new place for an office within a somewhat Korean area near Detroit.

I was never given reasons for anything unless I was with one alone and started questioning them. As I see it, the same holds true for building diagrams and plans. No real specifications. Or not wanting to give them to the Americans.

This particular plant will not be building the latest 2nm transistor semiconductors either. The older versions 4nm transistors will be built there. It appears like the Taiwanese do not want to share the “how to” build the latest version with Americans. Not much of a surprise here either.

The US will have a brand new plant building older product which “may” need updating to build newer product. Do you think the US will be using 4nm transistor in their product? Not likely.

TSMC Phoenix Plant Delayed Over Management, Safety Issues, Workers Say, business, Jacob Zinkula

In Phoenix, record-breaking summer heat isn’t the only thing on the rise. Tensions are boiling at a construction site of the world’s leading chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.

Two current workers say operational mismanagement and administrative chaos have delayed the building of the chip factory.

Those are not the reasons TSMC has given.

In July, TSMC announces the plant opening will likely be in 2025. This is partly because of a lack of skills and experience among US workers. To get things back on track, the company is trying to get visas for as many as 500 Taiwanese technicians to assist with construction and training on the site, where nearly 12,000 people work each day.

In response, the Arizona Pipe Trades 469 Union, a labor union that says it represents over 4,000 pipe fitters, plumbers, welders, and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning technicians, started a petition to urge US lawmakers to deny these visas. The union says SMC is deliberately misrepresenting the skillset of Arizona’s workforce. Adding it’s concerns with US workers leads ultimately to their replacement with “less costly” Taiwanese labor.

“They keep saying we’re slowing them down, but they’re not giving us the information we need,” a pipe cutter who has worked at the Arizona site for roughly a year told Insider. “Most of us are capable of doing it if you gave us the correct information.”

The Phoenix workers spoke with Insider on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional repercussions. Their identities are known to Insider.

TSMC, however, has maintained that the incoming Taiwanese workers will not be a threat to US jobs. A company spokesperson told Insider that at this stage in the construction process, it’s “common practice to partner with the local workforce and international experienced staff to ensure the highest-quality execution.” 

The company did not respond specifically to the accusations of management problems on the site, but a spokesperson said:

“TSMC is committed to ensuring that working conditions in its supply chains are safe, that workers are treated with respect and dignity, and that business operations are environmentally responsible and conducted ethically.” 

‘TSMC wants you to get the job done with as little amount of information and as fast as possible.’

The Arizona pipe cutter said the construction delay was “100% a management problem.”

He said it’s not that US workers didn’t have the skills to build the factory. It is their just not being given sufficient resources to do the job. He and many other workers on the site, he said, have worked at the chipmaker Intel in a similar capacity in the past, so they know it doesn’t have to be this way.

Pipe fitter states . . .

“At Intel, they can give me a package that says, ‘Hey, this is the equipment that I want you to build. This is the deadline. These are the standards.’ Everything you could think of. And essentially, TSMC is the exact opposite. They just say, ‘Build this.’ And I don’t get the blueprints. There’s no planning. They essentially assume everybody just knows how to do the job. But I can’t read your mind.”

Instead of the extensive blueprints he’s used to, almost all of his work at TSMC was done by referring to emails and pictures that sometimes included difficult-to-decipher notes. He adds . . .

“TSMC wants you to get the job done with as little amount of information and as fast as possible.”

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that managerial challenges — fueled in part by cultural differences between TSMC and US workers — had been among the reasons for the factory’s delay. In February, TSMC employees told the Times American workers were difficult to manage.

The pipe cutter said that TSMC and its key contractors were largely to blame for the management problems.

‘I would not want to be in these buildings after they’re fully complete.’

“Sometimes we’ll have to do work two or three times because they’re like, ‘Well, this is how we do it in Taiwan,'” he said. “So we build it exactly how they want it, but then as soon as it’s put in, we’re not going to sign off on it because it’s illegal. It’s against international building code.”

The pipe cutter said that safety violations were also common on the site. He said in one instance, “hundreds of pounds of weight” were loosely hanging 20 to 30 feet above workers’ heads — a “really big safety violation.”

He said many Taiwanese workers on the site wore tennis shoes — rather than boots — and didn’t wear safety glasses or gloves.

After complaining about one safety issue for two straight weeks, he said, he spoke with a company safety representative.

“He literally told me to my face that we’re only here for insurance purposes — they won’t let us do anything,” he said, referring to the company’s desire to meet baseline safety requirements. “And that’s when I gave up.”

The pipe cutter isn’t the only worker who has raised safety concerns. In June, The American Prospect reported that workers said injuries and safety violations were common on the construction site. 

“It’s easily the most unsafe site I’ve ever walked on,” Luke Kasper, a representative of a union for sheet-metal workers, said.

TSMC has defended its commitment to safety. When asked whether there were any safety issues on the site, the company said it was regularly audited against known safety standards and that it conducted its own internal audits of safety records against state and national figures. The company said that in Arizona, its “recordable safety incident rate” was nearly 80% lower than nationally reported figures.

“TSMC is deeply committed to workplace safety in the operation of all our facilities, along with each of our active construction projects, including TSMC Arizona,” the spokesperson said. 

Earlier this month, after multiple health and safety complaints were sent to the state over the past year, TSMC and the state of Arizona signed a workplace-safety agreement. Both sides agreed to subject the company to higher safety standards than required at the federal level, including closer oversight and increased training and safety visits. 

The pipe cutter said he was worried for the thousands of workers set to run the factory once it’s complete.

“One of the most dangerous places to work in the United States is in a semiconductor facility because there are large amounts of chemicals,” he said. “Stuff is going to break, and when it does, these are nasty, nasty chemicals. And that’s my worry. I would not want to be in these buildings after they’re fully complete.”

‘It’s not like we’re against the Taiwanese workers or anything. We’re against TSMC.’

When entering the construction site each morning, both workers said they’d experienced delays at every step of the process, from hourlong security lines to challenges procuring the right safety gear, known as a “bunny suit.”

“Then you go through the gowning process, and they don’t have your size. And then you go to degown, and they don’t have your hanger or somebody took your hanger,” the pipe cutter said. “It’s literally every step of the process. Everything is difficult.”

“Parking is insane out there with the vehicles and traffic management,” the welder said.

Rather than bringing over more Taiwanese workers, the welder added, TSMC should focus on solving these other problems. 

“I have never heard word of what skills we are lacking, nor any word or info at all on what or when we will be trained from their workers,” he said. 

The pipe cutter said he thought the workers might be able to help but it was not because US workers lacked skills or expertise.

“As far as TSMC saying that they need the skilled workers, what they really mean is they want the cheaper workers, their guys, to come over here because they don’t have to tell them anything,” he said. “They can literally just say, ‘Hey, this whole row, go build it.'”

He added: “It’s not like we’re against the Taiwanese workers or anything. We’re against TSMC. TSMC is a problem.”

Both workers said they were sticking it out because the job paid well enough but they hoped to eventually find other work.

“It’s the worst job that any of us have ever had, as far as safety and quality and everything,” the pipe cutter said. “Every guy that I know is leaving this job as soon as we can.”

TSMC delays Arizona plant because of US skilled worker shortage? Angry Bear

The Largest Chipmaker in the World Was Supposed to Create Thousands of US Jobs, But There Are Delays, Trendy Matter, Mark Smith. (TSMC is attempting to cloud the issue. This is not manufacturing.)