American Factory Directors Steven Bognar and Julia Rechert
This documentary is jammed pack with relevant content: the decline of factory jobs, culture differences between China and America, an argument for unions, and the role of automation in job replacement.
This is the first film from the Obamas Netflix deal. It’s not political except to point out the many complexities facing world economies and trade deals.
The film starts out with the impact that a GM plant closing has on the workers and the surrounding community of Dayton, Ohio. After eight plus years of blight, hope appears in the form of a Chines automotive glass company called Fuyao. The CEO of the company promises to revitalize the community with jobs. Thousands of workers are hired. They are trained by Chinese employees from a sister plant in China.
The Chinese managers and Fuyao CEO quickly form an impression of American Workers as lazy and hard to manage. The American workers, on the other hand, soon realize that the promised jobs pay only $12 an hour, more than half what they earned with GM. The work is tedious and in some cases unsafe.
To help expedite the training, a number of American workers fly to China to see how the workers there perform the same jobs. This is where the stark differences between China and America stand out. The Chinese employees work 12 hour days with only two days off a month. They work in unsafe conditions. They sing songs about the company and march as if they are in the military as opposed to working for a company.
This is life in a communist country. Children grow up with absentee parents. Workers have no voice. Industry pollutes the air, water, and land with impunity.
I belong to a union. This film shows the important role unions play in a worker’s pay, benefits, and working conditions. Unions give workers a voice.
The answer the Chinese find for their hard to manage American workers is to fire union organizers, then replace as many as possible with automation.
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