Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and union officials representing construction workers have agreed on a framework for cooperation at the company’s north Phoenix complex, cooling some tensions between the two sides.
The accord, announced Wednesday between TSMC Arizona and the Arizona Building and Construction Trades Council, outlines priorities for building the facility and installing machinery.
It covers training, safety, communication and foreign workers.
The complex near Dove Valley Road and 43rd Avenue represents the largest single foreign direct investment in Arizona’s history. TSMC Arizona’s factories, or fabs, will feature the most advanced semiconductor technology in the United States, creating thousands of permanent jobs.
The trades council has been critical of the company over various issues, including an allegation that the latter was bringing in less-skilled workers from Taiwan. American workers also have raised allegations of safety issues. An Arizona Republic investigation revealed that state inspectors have found few workplace safety violations at the construction site.
President Biden toured the facility almost exactly one year ago.
Accord addresses safety, foreign workers
Among highlights of the agreement, the trades council pledged to recruit a sufficient number of skilled workers to fulfill manpower requirements, and TSMC Arizona would cooperate in the development of union workforce training programs and curricula.
The goal is to build a construction workforce that can support TSMC Arizona for the near and long term.
The agreement also called for a renewed commitment to safety, with TSMC Arizona agreeing to share information with AZBTC on safety assessments, audits, incident records and improvement plans.
In terms of communication, the company and trades council will form a committee that will hold quarterly meetings, one of which will be held annually to project future workforce needs. The committee will consist of members designed by affiliated trades council unions and those designated by the company and its contractors.
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Both sides praise agreement
“Today’s agreement is a win for Arizona workers and the construction timeline of TSMC Arizona,” said Aaron Butler, trades council president, in a prepared statement. “AZBTC and TSMC Arizona have shown that when we come together to focus on our workers and developing the skills of the future, our state has much to gain.”
“AZBTC union members have the critical skills necessary to help us complete our two advanced-chipmaking fabs, and we look forward to embarking together on a new chapter of partnership and collaboration,” he said, also in a prepared statement.
In addition to construction workers, roughly 2,200 full-time TSMC employees work at the complex. The first fab is scheduled to start operating during the first half of 2025, a slight delay from a preliminary estimate of late 2024.
The state also announced funding and other support for construction trades apprenticeships through its BuilditAZ Initiative.
Federal officials also have been monitoring relations between company and union leaders, given the importance of the TSMC Arizona project in reinvigorating the U.S. semiconductor industry.
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