[News] Resolution of Labor Dispute Paves the Way for Accelerated Equipment Installation at TSMC’s US Fab

2023-12-08 Semiconductors editor

The labor dispute sparked by TSMC’s venture into the United States is poised to come to a close. TSMC’s Arizona plant and the local labor union, Arizona Building and Construction Trades Council (AZBTC), announced an agreement yesterday. TSMC will collaborate with the local union to establish a workforce training program and maintain transparency on public safety issues.

However, TSMC also retains some flexibility, aiming to recruit local employees while seeking the option to hire foreign workers with “specialized experience” if deemed necessary.

It is anticipated that this agreement aligns with TSMC’s prior request for the dispatch of 500 professional equipment engineers from Taiwan to the United States. This move, with the successful acquisition of technical construction permits, is expected to facilitate the expedited installation of equipment, ensuring smooth operational processes in the future.

While TSMC’s move to set up a factory in the United States was fueled by favorable policies, it faced challenges as contractors were unfamiliar with U.S. regulations, causing delays in mechanical and electrical integration and cleanroom construction.

To expedite the installation of advanced process equipment for the groundbreaking four-nanometer fabrication process in the U.S., TSMC had to mobilize nearly 500 personnel from Taiwan for intensive installation work before system integration.

This decision sparked a strong backlash from the AZBTC, criticizing TSMC for disrespecting local technicians’ expertise and raising concerns about TSMC’s potential intention to introduce cheaper labor, impacting local job rights.

Although TSMC consistently emphasized maintaining good interactions with various unions in Arizona, some union representatives were displeased with TSMC’s practice of dispatching personnel through suppliers. Reportedly, they called on the state and federal governments to pressure TSMC, leading to unexpected delays in the installation of new equipment.

After months of negotiation between TSMC and AZBTC, an agreement was reached, listing agreed-upon priority areas, including union training, communication channels, and on-site personnel allocation. However, TSMC, considering global talent distribution, retained the flexibility to hire foreign construction personnel with specific expertise in certain circumstances.

According to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council(GPEC), the specific terms of the agreement reached between the two parties are as follows:

  1. Enhanced Workforce Training and Development

A highly skilled, diverse, and inclusive construction workforce is necessary to meet the timelines of the two fabs. The AZBTC intends to recruit a sufficient number of skilled workers to fulfill manpower requirements of TSMC Arizona’s contractors for the Project. TSMC Arizona will partner with AZBTC on the development of union workforce training programs and curricula. The goal will be to build a construction workforce that can support TSMC Arizona in the near and long term with employment opportunities.。

  1. Shared Commitment to Site Safety

TSMC Arizona is deeply committed to workplace safety in the operation of all its facilities. To enhance the partnership, TSMC Arizona will maintain transparency with AZBTC with regards to safety assessments, audits, incident records and improvement plans.

  1. Industry Leading, Global Workforce

TSMC Arizona is focused on hiring workers locally in the United States. The AZBTC workforce is highly skilled in constructing microchip manufacturing plants. Circumstances may require TSMC Arizona or its vendors to employ foreign workers with specialized experience.

  1. Open and Regular Communication

To ensure TSMC Arizona and AZBTC are fulfilling the spirit of the agreement outlined, and accountable to commitments made, ongoing communication and review via regular forums will be critical. A committee will be formed, consisting of members designated by the affiliated AZBTC unions and members designated by TSMC Arizona and the contractors. These meetings will be held quarterly, one of which will be an annual forecast meeting to project future workforce requirements.

The report notes that TSMC also mentioned in a joint statement that its construction of a fab in Arizona represents the largest single foreign direct investment in the state’s history. This wafer fab is set to be the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing base in the United States, creating thousands of stable and high-paying job opportunities locally.

The ongoing construction of the wafer fab’s two-phase project has already generated thousands of jobs in accordance with the prevailing industry wage standards for members of the AZBTC.

(Photo credit: TSMC)

Please note that this article cites information from GPEC and UDN

Read more