Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

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Thread: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

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    Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    The New York Times
    August 21, 2019



    ‘American Factory’ Review: The New Global Haves and Have-Nots

    A documentary looks at what happened when a Chinese company took over a closed General Motors factory in Ohio.

    “The most important thing is not how much money we earn,” the Chinese billionaire Cao Dewang says in “American Factory” soon before we see him on a private jet. What’s important, he says, are Americans’ views toward China and its people.

    In 2016, Cao opened a division of Fuyao, his global auto-glass manufacturing company, in a shuttered General Motors factory near Dayton, Ohio. Blaming slumping S.U.V. sales, G.M. had closed the plant — known as the General Motors Moraine Assembly Plant — in December 2008, throwing thousands out of work the same month the American government began a multibillion dollar bailout of the auto industry. The Dayton factory remained idle until Fuyao announced it was taking it over, investing millions and hiring hundreds of local workers, numbers it soon increased.

    The veteran filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, who are a couple and live outside of Dayton, documented the G.M. plant when it closed. They included the image of the last truck rolling off the line in their 2009 short, “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant.” That crystallizing image also appears in “American Factory,” which revisits the plant six years later. The feature-length story they tell here is complex, stirring, timely and beautifully shaped, spanning continents as it surveys the past, present and possible future of American labor.

    “American Factory” opens with a brief, teary look back at the plant’s closing that sketches in the past and foreshadows the difficult times ahead. The story proper begins in 2015 amid the optimistic bustle of new beginnings, including a rah-rah Fuyao presentation for American job seekers. Bognar and Reichert, who shot the movie with several others — the editor is Lindsay Utz — have a great eye for faces and they quickly narrow in on the range of expressions in the room. Some applicants sit and listen stoically; one woman, her hand over her mouth, gently rocks in her seat, tapping out a nervous rhythm as the Fuyao representative delivers his pitch.

    With detail and sweep, interviews and you-are-there visuals, the filmmakers quickly establish a clear, strong narrative line as the new enterprise — Fuyao Glass America — gets off the ground. The optimism of the workers is palpable; the access the filmmakers secured remarkable. Bognar and Reichert spent a number of years making “American Factory,” a commitment that’s evident in its layered storytelling and the trust they earned. American and visiting Chinese workers alike open their homes and hearts, including Wong He, an engaging, quietly melancholic furnace engineer who speaks movingly of his wife and children back in China.

    His is just one story in an emotionally and politically trenchant chronicle of capitalism, propaganda, conflicting values and labor rights. As the factory ramps up, optimism gives way to unease, dissent and fear. Some workers are hurt, others are at risk; glass breaks, tempers fray. Both the Chinese and American management complain about production and especially about the American workers who, in turn, seem mainly grateful for a new shot.










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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    With detail and sweep, interviews and you-are-there visuals, the filmmakers quickly establish a clear, strong narrative line as the new enterprise — Fuyao Glass America — gets off the ground. The optimism of the workers is palpable; the access the filmmakers secured remarkable. Bognar and Reichert spent a number of years making “American Factory,” a commitment that’s evident in its layered storytelling and the trust they earned.
    Sounds amazing. Let's hope it has a happy ending.









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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    I watched it today. Now I see why GM loves China. Workers in Fuyao's China plant work 6 days a week/ 12 hr shifts with few holidays and little vaca. The Chinese workers that are brought over to train American workers don't see their families for over 2 years! They speak of the company chairman as if he were Chairman Mao. Treats of pulling out if any talk of unionizing are openly filmed.

    You see the depression in the American worker's faces as they need the work to pay for food, rent, mortgages but can't stand working there. People that made $30/hr with great benefits now having to work for 1/3 the money and fear loosing their jobs when they get injured at the plant.

    In some ways you can't blame the Chinese as they have always worked this way. How do we allow them to bring down our standard of living instead of seeing theirs get better. Non Communist nations like Japan and Korea would never have one of their US factories run like this.

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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    Quote Originally Posted by joey View Post
    You see the depression in the American worker's faces as they need the work to pay for food, rent, mortgages but can't stand working there. People that made $30/hr with great benefits now having to work for 1/3 the money and fear loosing their jobs when they get injured at the plant.
    Workers who "can't stand working" at the Fuyao Glass Industry Group Co. Ltd plant in Moraine should sit down.

    Seriously, if employees at that Fuyao facility don't like the work, they should resign and find employment elsewhere. There are plenty of opportunities at other companies and institutions in the Dayton area such as Premier Health Partners, WPAFB, Reynolds & Reynolds, etc.

    The whole idea that anyone is entitled to a job that pays "$30/hr with great benefits" is absurd.
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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    Quote Originally Posted by joey View Post
    I watched it today. Now I see why GM loves China. Workers in Fuyao's China plant work 6 days a week/ 12 hr shifts with few holidays and little vaca. The Chinese workers that are brought over to train American workers don't see their families for over 2 years! They speak of the company chairman as if he were Chairman Mao. Treats of pulling out if any talk of unionizing are openly filmed.

    You see the depression in the American worker's faces as they need the work to pay for food, rent, mortgages but can't stand working there. People that made $30/hr with great benefits now having to work for 1/3 the money and fear loosing their jobs when they get injured at the plant.

    In some ways you can't blame the Chinese as they have always worked this way. How do we allow them to bring down our standard of living instead of seeing theirs get better. Non Communist nations like Japan and Korea would never have one of their US factories run like this.
    American sweatshops like meat packing houses, factories, lumber and steel mills, really only recently came into civilized working conditions and insurance, etc. for workers. Walter Reuther and the UAW a good example.
    America has been a world leader in bringing about humane conditions for the people who throughout history have been treated as disposable assets, like if a draft horse gets too old or lame to work, you shoot him, you don't send him out to pasture to live a happy retirement.

    The Chinese have done this in spades for eons. Theirs are the ultimate disposable people. Mao killed off 40-50 million during his great Cultural Revolution, many were the brains of the outfit but anyone who can think is a threat to dictators. When you have a population of a billion plus, 50 mil is pocket change.

    Pol Pot killed off about 1/4 of the Cambodian population IIRC. Students, intellectuals, managers, anyone who was a brain threat to his tyranny.
    But throughout history the drudge class has been disposable. The Ruling Elites didn't care, they were set.

    Quote Originally Posted by gkr778 View Post
    Workers who "can't stand working" at the Fuyao Glass Industry Group Co. Ltd plant in Moraine should sit down.

    Seriously, if employees at that Fuyao facility don't like the work, they should resign and find employment elsewhere. There are plenty of opportunities at other companies and institutions in the Dayton area such as Premier Health Partners, WPAFB, Reynolds & Reynolds, etc.

    The whole idea that anyone is entitled to a job that pays "$30/hr with great benefits" is absurd.
    I haven't seen the movie, but I do see the Chinese POV. I worked a factory for four years, the jobs were mostly routine, repetitive, and of course prone to injury. I was lucky, I landed in a place that required responsibility and a certain amount of brain power. My buddy who hired in at the same time and ended up putting something into the interior on final line, quit in a month or two. His old man got him into the metal model makers shop, where f****** off all day long was a way of life. He's the first guy I heard the term "government job" from.
    I frequently mused as to how profitable Ford and all the others could have been if they'd been able to get rid of the dead wood. They stole stuff all day, as did people at my factory.
    When my working partner was out or something happened, I dragged dead wood after dead wood around every day until my foreman finally got me an ass-busting worker to help.

    A couple of years back we visited the Rouge Truck plant. Talk about CUSH. Those Chinese guys would think they'd died and gone to heaven "working" that line. More like a casual stroll, making 30 bucks plus an hour.
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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    I watched it last night
    - I know the filmmaker is pushing a story and the Chinese are big on "showing face" but if true the Chinese in China are VERY grateful / HAPPY to have the job and to go to work - a LOT like how the Japanese are depicted VS the Americans that see work as an interruption to their weekends

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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    The Chinese tight political/economic partnership is in lock step with each other--especially since many of the oligarchs in China were former communist capos. Treatment of "the rest" has not changed for eons there. Unfortunately, the lockstep situation of these two situations...for China...seems to give them real global street cred allowing the despots of our generation with a real sense of credibility to "the rest" giving these despots an opening all around the world to make conditions for themselves much better.

    The hope is that we here in the US are smarter than that and can come together at some point to show how wrong this is. We haven't yet, but, as Churchill said, "Americans will always do the right thing, only after they have tried everything else."
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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    While I agree everyone is not entitled to a cush $30/hr job, I don't think the workers at Honda have to work around exploding glass windshields and have to step into 200+ degree ovens. Asking a worker to overload a fork lift is just wrong. The Chinese were just laughing at OSHA rules.

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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    Quote Originally Posted by Neanderthal View Post
    His old man got him into the metal model makers shop, where f****** off all day long was a way of life. He's the first guy I heard the term "government job" from.
    That doesn't just happen at union shops.
    I worked at a place years ago where the prototype shop was almost all eff offs.
    The guy that ran it was the son-in-law of the owner. Go figure.

    Not all of the relations screwed off... the main sales guy was also a relative (nephew, I believe), but that guy was good.

    But the owner was a wheeler dealer and ended up having to sell because his other businesses went broke.
    I got out before it happened... don't know what became of those people.
    If I were the new owners, I'd would've canned every relation in the place (there were quite a few) except for the nephew.
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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    The cultural differences between the US and China are really fascinating, understanding China and its history makes understanding our current world and the future extremely important. Right now it's amazing how little we understand each other.
    Last edited by BORG; 08-22-2019 at 04:05 PM.

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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    I read an article about this transition a few months ago. The one thing that I recall was one of the former management types saying in frustration after several months , "you can't spell Fuyao without FU"... They are not a happy bunch down there.

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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    Quote Originally Posted by eaton53 View Post
    That doesn't just happen at union shops.
    I worked at a place years ago where the prototype shop was almost all eff offs.
    The guy that ran it was the son-in-law of the owner. Go figure.

    Not all of the relations screwed off... the main sales guy was also a relative (nephew, I believe), but that guy was good.

    But the owner was a wheeler dealer and ended up having to sell because his other businesses went broke.
    I got out before it happened... don't know what became of those people.
    If I were the new owners, I'd would've canned every relation in the place (there were quite a few) except for the nephew.
    It happened there. His old man had been with Ford for decades and had lots of contacts. Politics gets lots of people into jobs well above their level of incompetence.
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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    Quote Originally Posted by joey View Post
    I watched it today. Now I see why GM loves China. Workers in Fuyao's China plant work 6 days a week/ 12 hr shifts with few holidays and little vaca. The Chinese workers that are brought over to train American workers don't see their families for over 2 years! They speak of the company chairman as if he were Chairman Mao. Treats of pulling out if any talk of unionizing are openly filmed.

    You see the depression in the American worker's faces as they need the work to pay for food, rent, mortgages but can't stand working there. People that made $30/hr with great benefits now having to work for 1/3 the money and fear loosing their jobs when they get injured at the plant.

    In some ways you can't blame the Chinese as they have always worked this way. How do we allow them to bring down our standard of living instead of seeing theirs get better. Non Communist nations like Japan and Korea would never have one of their US factories run like this.
    I can't help but think that is why they are or have been on such a roll until recently while in America just the opposite a lot of times. I see it even where I work in a non union setting. People getting by with no more than they have to in what is expected of them and yet still when it comes to "the good stuff" still want it all or that they are entitled. Something else just came to mind on an aside of Trump and his "Make America Great Again" spin, is that it starts from this previously mentioned angle of mine too. A changing of the mindset needs to occur on the home front in a lot of instances as well.

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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    Quote Originally Posted by 1958carnut View Post
    A changing of the mindset needs to occur on the home front in a lot of instances as well.
    Can this be accomplished from their parents basement?
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    Re: Update: GM's Former SUV Factory Featured In "American Factory"

    Quote Originally Posted by tripowergto Jan2003 View Post
    Can this be accomplished from their parents basement?
    Parents should be willing to do like Teddy Roosevelt and "Speak softly and carry a big stick" maybe

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