AFL-CIO: Three-Billion Dollar Foxconn Deal Must Work for Wisconsin’s Workers
The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO is raising concerns about Republican Governor Scott Walker’s recently-struck deal with Foxconn Technology Group. The plan, which promises thousands of jobs, would pay three billion dollars to the 135 billion dollar Taiwanese technology giant. This is 517 dollars for each person in the state. As part of the prosed deal, legislators must pass a bill exempting FoxConn and its contractors from numerous environmental regulations and giving them lower utility rates for at least a decade.
Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt notes that it’s not even clear how many jobs this three billion dollar investment will create:
[Phil Neuenfeldt]: “At the initial press release they were talking about thirteen thousand, then it was up to 13 thousand, now they’re talking about three thousand. So, we don’t even know for sure how many jobs they’re looking at really creating. I think you’ve got to do a little better in terms of giving us some expectation as to what the real number of jobs are going to be and what sort of jobs they’re going to be and what they’ll pay.”
The AFL-CIO is calling for legal assurances of good family-supporting wages, proper healthcare and workplace safety. Neuenfeldt especially wants to be sure that these jobs will go to Wisconsin workers:
[Phil Neuenfeldt]: “You have Wisconsin taxpayers footing the bill for this thing, so there should be some expectation that people from our state and our communities have opportunities to be provided as a result. Those jobs should not be undermined by things such as the H1B visa programs and others, so that you don’t create a system that skips the hiring of local workers. And I think importantly there’s got to be some investment in skills and training, making sure that there’s pathways to apprenticeship, and that, when we look at the facility construction, that Wisconsin’s highly-skilled workers should be used in that process.”
Given concerns about FoxConn’s labor record in other countries, the AFL-CIO also wants labor rights guarantees:
[Phil Neuenfeldt]: “The best way to ensure that workers are not abused or mistreated is that they have the freedom to join a union and to organize. So, we’re hoping that there something can be something put forward where employers, in that ‘manufacturing zone’, as they call it, that they’ve got to respect the employees’ right to collectively bargain.”