A feud is escalating between Arizona workers and the leading chipmaker as the company suggests that the US lacks the necessary skills to construct its new factory.

A feud is escalating between Arizona workers and the leading chipmaker as the company suggests that the US lacks the necessary skills to construct its new factory.

TSMC’s Arizona Chip Factory Faces Delays and Controversy

TSMC Arizona Chip Factory

Who knew that building a chip factory in Arizona could be the source of so much drama? Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is facing delays in the construction of its Arizona chip factory due to a shortage of skilled workers. To get construction back on track, TSMC has been in discussions with the US government about bringing in 500 Taiwanese workers with the necessary expertise and skillsets that Americans don’t possess.

Not everyone is happy about this potential development. The Arizona Pipe Trades 469 Union, which represents over 4,000 pipefitters, plumbers, welders, and HVAC technicians, has started a petition urging US lawmakers to deny the visas for the Taiwanese workers. The union claims that TSMC has misrepresented the skillset of Arizona’s workforce and approving the visas would pave the way for “cheap labor” to replace American workers.

This dispute is the latest development in the US’s race to establish a presence in the semiconductor chip industry, which has become a major priority as the world becomes more dependent on devices that rely on chips. From smartphones to televisions to refrigerators and washing machines, chips are now essential components. Additionally, the US wants to be self-sufficient in chip manufacturing in case of a conflict with countries like China. In line with this goal, President Biden signed the CHIPS Act last summer, which includes over $52 billion in semiconductor subsidies to boost chip manufacturing and create American jobs. As part of this effort, TSMC, the world’s leading chipmaker, announced plans to build a second factory in Arizona.

However, the construction of TSMC’s first Arizona factory has encountered hiccups, with the initial plan of opening by late 2024 now likely to be pushed back to 2025. The reason for this delay is the insufficiency of skilled workers with the specialized expertise required for installing advanced equipment in a semiconductor-grade facility. To address this issue, TSMC intends to send experienced technicians from Taiwan to train local skilled workers for a short period of time. But for this plan to work, the company needs the US government to approve worker visas, which the Arizona union is trying to prevent.

The union argues that since TSMC is seeking subsidies via the CHIPS Act, American jobs should be prioritized over foreign workers. The company, on the other hand, maintains that the incoming Taiwanese workers would only support the construction process and not pose a threat to US jobs. They emphasize that these workers would be in Arizona for a limited timeframe, solely for the specific project, and would not affect the existing workforce of 12,000 workers.

The extent to which American workers can handle the construction without additional assistance is debatable. Both TSMC and the union did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment. Other factors have also contributed to the tensions between TSMC and union workers, including allegations of injuries and safety violations on the construction site.

The controversy in Arizona has even gained attention in Taiwan. A Taiwanese YouTube channel with nearly three million subscribers posted a video accusing the Arizona workers of being lazy, further fueling the conflict. It’s clear that the construction of TSMC’s Arizona chip factory has become a contentious issue with implications for both economic and labor concerns.

As the US government deliberates on the approval of visas for Taiwanese workers, construction on the factory continues. With billions of dollars in subsidies at stake and the importance of the US chip manufacturing industry, it remains to be seen how this situation will unfold and what it means for American jobs and the semiconductor industry as a whole.