By Lloyd Graff

Foxconn’s choice of southern Wisconsin for their first major American manufacturing plant is fascinating to me as someone who has seen the Midwest absolutely battered by Chinese competition for the last 25 years.

The days are gone since Foxconn in China slung nets under the windows of the dormitories where its young employees resided to catch the suicidal workers, so depressed after a brutal day of assembling iPhones.  Now Foxconn is confident enough of its manufacturing prowess and managerial acumen to stick a giant factory in a Wisconsin cow pasture and recruit its workers from the broken down, bankrupt towns in the neighborhood like Beloit, Kenosha, and Rockford, Illinois.  Not that there are not vexing problems related to worker depression in the semi-rural Midwest.  Opioid addiction and alcoholism are rampant, and nets will not help them there.

So why would Foxconn choose southeast Wisconsin?  Perhaps the biggest reason is Chicago.  They get exurban Chicago at a huge discount.  Chinese management will be able to fly into O’Hare and get to the new plant in an hour, but everything will be cheaper in Bristol, Wisconsin, than close to the airport.  They are following the Amazon play book.

Amazon is building giant fulfillment centers west and south of Chicago.  They staff these 1,000,000-square-foot mega plants with $13-per-hour people who come and go depending on how fast Amazon runs the conveyor belts.

Amazon has proved that you can recruit thousands of workers in a short period of time, work them hard but fairly, and retain enough of them to justify building more plants in the Chicago metropolitan area.  Access to arterial highways is essential for Amazon, and it will be for Foxconn, too.

Amazon and Foxconn will challenge virtually every employer in the Chicago/Milwaukee area and lift the threshold for wages.  Amazon offers health insurance and tuition subsidies after one year on the job.  Employees will make $13 per hour, the new minimum wage for able-bodied, modestly intelligent people who will work hard.  It will be interesting to see whether Foxconn will make stringent drug testing a condition of employment.  My research indicates an oral swab at the preliminary interview is Amazon’s entrance test with random testing on the shop floor.

Why is Foxconn going to manufacture in the United States?  I think it is partly political; putting a plant in Paul Ryan’s district that voted for President Trump makes sense, short term.  Being close to its American customers can’t hurt.  Stashing money outside of China is a good hedge for Foxconn’s bosses.  And it’s hard to resist amber waves of grain.

What do you think?

Question:  Should companies drug test?

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14 thoughts on “Foxcows

  1. Grimstod

    Your very foolish not to. Drug abuse is a lack of self control and discipline. Two things that you need in an employee. Your killing to birds with one stone. Win win for everyone.

  2. Misterchipster

    Without question, yes.
    Employers are held accountable for virtually every other employee behavior why not that too? Please tell be where the line between irresponsible personal behavior and “recreation” is drawn, it appears to be a very crooked line to me. The current mentality is that if you don’t get caught it’s ok. Self indulgence will be our undoing.

  3. John

    I can’t imagine a situation where you would not drug test.

    Dairy Queen just opened a new franchise in the area, but the opening date was postponed because they could not get enough applicants to pass the drug test.

    Who do you want serving your ice cream?

  4. Noah Graff

    Of course it’s a good idea to test. But what if you are missing out on good talent who happen to smoke pot?

    What about in States where pot is legal like Washington or Colorado?

    Food for thought.

    1. Bruskie

      Many employers are still drug testing for marijuana in states where it is legal to toke for recreation, it can still cost you your job and still be a dis qualifier for employment.
      I agree with the question about talent and pot. Aside from what the old school of though is, marijuana has caused few problems in the world, especially when it’s compared to the legal drug, alcohol.

    2. Grimstod

      By this same reasoning you should be required to go to a high security prison and accept applicants for interviews from child molesters for a daycare center job. You never know, there may be good talent there and screening them out just because they have a history of child molestation would mean you would miss out on that “good talent”. Let’s not kid ourselves here. Do you want to be accountable for that person getting killed on the job while their abilities were impaired? Not administering a drug test is foolish.

  5. Art Santana

    A stoned employee will be a stoned employee no matter how legal the substance. I just can’t imagine allowing anyone not at full mental capacity or reality running a quarter million dollar machine.
    Test and stop the process if you do not have a sober employee.

  6. Big Al

    Most companies won’t allow their employees to be under the influence of alcohol while at work. Why should marijuana be any different?


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