I just saw the movie, “American Factory,” on Netflix.
American Factory (Chinese: 美国工厂) is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, about Chinese company Fuyao’s factory in Moraine, a city near Dayton, Ohio, that occupies Moraine Assembly, a shuttered General Motors plant. It won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Filmed from February 2015 until the end of 2017, Reichert and Bognar were granted filming access by Fuyao at both their Ohio and Chinese plant locations. They filmed the workers on the factory floor as well as the executives.
About half the film is in English and half is in Chinese with English subtitles.
I feel that this film is outstanding and extremely relevant to the Macro economy in both the U.S. and in China.
The contrast between the Chinese workforce (disciplined, highly motivated, fast and focused on their work, despite very long hours, few days off and low pay) and the American workers (slow, whiny, entitled, sullen) is so sharp that if this had not been a fly-on-the-wall documentary I would have thought the writers cooked up stereotypes to make the American workers look bad. The Chinese workers appeared eager to do their jobs. The American workers’ body language and eye rolls showed that they felt put upon by management since their incomes were lower than their (UAW negotiated) GM incomes.
Worker disaffection appears rampant in the U.S.
By Lindsay Ellis, The Wall Street Journal, Updated June 13, 2023
Half of workers aren’t engaged on the job, putting in minimal effort to get by, according to research by Gallup released Tuesday. Employee engagement, a measure of involvement and enthusiasm at work, in the U.S. declined for the second year in a row. There is also a growing share of the workforce that is disengaged, or resentful that their needs aren’t being met. In some cases, these workers are disgruntled over low pay and long hours, or they have lost trust in their employers…
Workers at insurer Farmers Group called to unionize and some pledged to quit after a new chief executive said he would require most workers to be in the office three days a week. Amazon.com workers demonstrated at lunch recently against a hybrid-work policy with three days in the office a week… [end quote]
Is it any wonder that productivity is falling? Workers who were spoiled by being able to work from home are pushing back against actually having to come into the office.
A friend of mine who has worked in the semiconductor manufacturing industry in both the U.S. and China said that they should re-make the film using TSMC as an example. She feels that TSMC will not be able to effectively reproduce its Taiwanese success in the U.S. for lack of a competent work force.
The trade deficit has not yet returned to its pre-Covid level.
An entrepreneur watching these trends would not build manufacturing in the U.S.