American Factory is the story of Fuyao—a Chinese glass company—setting up a factory in Old GM facility in Dayton Ohio. There are a lot of challenges for Fuyaio to overcome:
- The American workers are not as dextrous or hard working as the Chinese.
- The safety laws are stricter in the US
- The workers work a five day week unlike six in China.
- Workers have a right to unionize in the US.
The CEO of Fuyao at some point says that the factory is not here to turn a profit but to prove to America that the Chinese can buy and run a business in China.
The documentary ends by the managers excited about automation that will further cut jobs.
Questions to ponder:
- Is it worth competing with China on industries as they have the advantage of cheap labour without much rights.
- How best to handle workers who lose decent paying jobs—their loss of lifestyle is stark.
- It is unrealistic to assume that workers will retrain themselves and get better jobs when they lose jobs—what sort of soft landing mechanisms can society build?