The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a rather interesting article in their Business section this morning about another apparently unadvertised feature in the Foxconn deal negotiated by Governor Scott Walker on behalf of the State of Wisconsin. As you may remember, the state may be on the hook for $4 billion in incentives to Foxconn if they meet certain hiring requirements for the plant that they have under construction in Racine County. But Foxconn has already changed the size of the plant and the product line it is going to manufacture and the number of manufacturing employees they are going to need. Hmmmph!
Well here’s a few interesting NEW tidbits from the article:
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Foxconn “is considering bringing in personnel from China” to help staff its Wisconsin manufacturing operations — a report Foxconn quickly denied.
Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the newspaper said Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou “is looking to company engineers in China to transfer” to Wisconsin. Gou is upset that few have volunteered to move if called upon, the newspaper said.
“We can categorically state that the assertion that we are recruiting Chinese personnel to staff our Wisconsin project is untrue,” Foxconn said in a statement.
Given some of the changes they have already made as briefly listed above and outlined in more detail in the linked article, I am not sure I want to take Terry Gou’s word over that of the Wall Street Journal. History has some relevance at times.
But what if Foxconn in fact did recruit foreign professionals for their Racine County plant?
While Foxconn said Tuesday that it is not recruiting Chinese personnel to Wisconsin, the state’s contract with the company appears to allow it to earn tax credits if foreign workers should be employed here.
If such people worked in Wisconsin for the benefit of Foxconn’s operations in Mount Pleasant, they apparently would qualify for the firm to earn tax credits equaling 17 percent of the employees’ pay.
“We did not see anything in the contract or in state law that would prohibit credits from being earned by individuals from another country relocating and working in Wisconsin” for the benefit of the Mount Pleasant operations, said Sean Moran, program supervisor with the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
So essentially, if Foxconn recruited employees of any number from outside the United States and they worked for Foxconn in Racine County…Wisconsin taxpayers would still be on the hook to pay Foxconn for the incentives designed to reward bring manufacturing employment to Wisconsin. Provided the federal government issued work visas for all 13,000 promised employees to Chinese workers…Wisconsin would have to provide the $4 billion in incentives…most of which would just disappear overseas…at an even greater rate than anticipated. And considering that this is one of President Donald Trump’s pet projects…what would prevent the feds from issuing as many H1B visas as requested?
And one more little item of interest here.
Meanwhile, U.S. Labor Department records show that Foxconn has applied for work visas for a small number of people to work in Wisconsin.
According to the records, the company filed applications in the last federal fiscal year for 11 so-called H-1B visas for positions at the research and production plant Foxconn has leased in Mount Pleasant.
The H-1B program lets companies temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations — generally those requiring at least a bachelor’s degree.
Foxconn applied for visas for people to fill positions as cost analysts, industrial engineers, manufacturing engineers and engineering managers.
Wisconsin doesn’t have any qualified cost analysts? or engineers? We have lots of engineering programs at Wisconsin schools and universities. Lots of business schools too. wtf?
The initial deal was bad enough. And then it looked like Illinois would get a lot of the benefits without the costs (still might). And then the rules on the plant unilaterally changed and the Walker administration pooh poohed it. And now we find out that Walker did nothing to protect Wisconsin workers and Wisconsin taxpayers from paying for foreign workers? All of the negative rumors are slowly surfacing as true.