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华尔街日报:福耀重振美国“铁锈地带”
2016-11-03

来源:华尔街日报The Wall Street Journal

作者:约翰·斯托

 

在福耀玻璃位于俄亥俄州的工厂,内撒尼尔·塔斯特仅仅花了11个月就升任主管。(华尔街日报,约舒华·比克尔摄)

 

俄亥俄州莫瑞——纳撒尼尔·塔斯特放弃了沃尔玛超市的主管职位,转而加入了一家因美国汽车市场的兴盛而到来的汽车配件公司,成为了一名基层职工。他的转型凸显了美国汽车周边产业的新动向。

最初,塔斯特先生的工作是帮助打扫一个位于莫瑞恩南部的废旧体育设备工厂。他手中的扫帚在清理地面的同时,还能驱赶浣熊。如今,塔斯特是一名生产经理,有许多像他一样的员工成为了在金融危机期间遭受重创的锈带地区生产型企业复兴的中坚力量。

塔斯特先生向本报回忆起去年12月刚入职时的情景,他说:“进工厂前必须得戴口罩。”当时无论是在俄亥俄还是美国的汽车业领域,他的东家——福耀玻璃工业集团还名不见经传,用59岁的塔斯特的话说,那段日子实在是在“摸着石头过河。”

然而,这个中国最大汽车玻璃制造商希望让塔斯特和他的同事看到美国汽车工业的未来。当地官员表示福耀玻璃进驻莫瑞恩是上帝的安排,此举挽救了因通用公司、德国邮政DHL和美国国家提款机设备集团的撤出而岌岌的当地经济。

福耀玻璃自从两年前收购工厂以来总共招收了2000名员工。福耀玻璃创始人曹德旺计划在明年年底以前签订总值10亿美元的收购合同,其中位于莫瑞的工厂是收购计划中的核心部分。该工厂投产后计划为北美地区的轿车和轻型卡车市场供应汽车玻璃,市场份额预计达到25%。

曹董事长在一次采访中表示,公司首先将与通用汽车公司就一份重要的供货合同进行洽谈,随后将在美国的工厂部署生产线。他希望在一定时间后美国工厂的员工数量会达到3000名。

莫瑞恩市长爱兰妮·阿里森表示,这个有6300人的城市“正在感受到福耀玻璃投资带来的好处”。最近,市政府利用职工个人所得税的2.5%对梅恩街进行了翻修。阿里森说:“福耀的进驻对我们来说是一件好事”。

福耀玻璃和几家新成立的公司一样,正在为美国的汽车业创造就业岗位,如今的汽车业已经与金融危机期间遭受重创的时期大有不同,特斯拉、中国延锋汽车饰件系统有限公司、西班牙海斯坦普等企业都已扩大了产能。

其中,像福耀玻璃这样的公司填补了已经破产的汽车零部件供应商留下的空白,另一些企业则在金融危机期间被私募基金收购。福耀玻璃进驻莫瑞恩开业为美国汽车玻璃业的产量不足解了燃眉之急。

根据美国劳动统计局的数据表明,目前,美国汽车业为美国创造了100万个就业岗位,为2008年通用关闭位于莫瑞恩的工厂以来的最高水平。但是,全美汽车零部件工厂工人的平均时薪比八年前减少了3%。

这对莫瑞恩和周边的代顿来说无疑是一个打击。代顿大学商业研究集团负责人理查德·斯多克认为,即使就业情况向好,但工资水平也处于低位,他说:“八年前的人均工资超过了全国平均水平,之后逐渐下降。一个人平均每周少挣了120美元”。

在上世纪90年代,阿里森作为一名商业租赁员就开始与市政府打交道,她说:“之前通用公司创造的岗位已经不复存在,现在人们已经‘适应了新的现实’”。

斯多克先生指出,除了福耀玻璃以外,其他经营物流或仓储业务的公司都已经辞掉了原来的保安。他说:“一小时只挣14、15美元很辛苦了,但有些势利眼的人开起人来毫不留情”。

对中国公司来说,美国人的工资即使目前处在最低水平也是很贵的。直到最近,福耀玻璃还通过有“工业走廊”美誉的俄亥俄州第75号州际公路从中国为本田汽车组装线进口汽车玻璃。

根据处于焦虑中的福耀玻璃美国分公司总裁约翰·高蒂尔的估计,莫瑞当地职工的工资水平是中国员工的6倍。

为了降低成本,福耀玻璃在美国使用了大量机器人。但高蒂尔说像塔斯特这样的员工在业内到什么时候都是抢手的,他说:“我们需要勤快和乐于钻研的员工。”

塔斯特先生已经为福耀玻璃工作了11个月左右,他从基层工作干起,短时间内升任主管,同时他的时薪从入职以来增加了6美元,他现在的薪水已经超过了他在沃尔玛工作17年后的水平。他现在的希望是能在过感恩节和圣诞节的时候回家。

新入职的员工会抱怨工资低,塔斯特先生会跟他们说:“‘你在别的地方扫地的时薪都不会超过12美元。你今天的辛勤会换来明天的改变。’”

 

 

Auto-Parts Makers Revive Rust Belt Cities

Chinese auto-glass maker is part of manufacturing revival

BY JOHN D. STOLL

 

 

MORAINE, Ohio -- Nathaniel Taste left a career helping manage a Wal-Mart store for an entry-level job with an auto-parts maker lured here by the booming U.S. car industry. His transition points to the new realities of auto-related manufacturing jobs in America.

Mr. Taste began by helping clean an abandoned sport-utility factory on the south side of town. His broom proved to be as useful fending off raccoons as it was sweeping floors. Today, he is a production supervisor, and workers like him are core to a revival of production jobs in hard-hit Rust Belt communities.

"You had to have a mask to come into this place," Mr. Taste said of his start at the company last December. His employer, Fuyao Glass Industry Group, is little known in Ohio or in U.S. car business; the 59-year-old bet his future on "something I couldn't see."

What China's biggest auto-glass producer needs Mr. Taste and his co-workers to see is the future of the American auto industry.

Local officials say Fuyao's arrival in Moraine was a godsend that helped stanch the economic bleeding from GM's departure as well as closures by Deutsche Post AG's DHL and bank ATM maker NCR Corp.

Fuyao has hired 2,000 people since it took ownership of the plant two years ago. Expected to eventually churn out enough windshields and auto glass to supply 25% of North American car and light-truck production, the factory is the centerpiece of a $1 billion U.S. investment Fuyao founder Cho Tak Wong plans to complete by the end of next year.

In an interview, Mr. Cho said he agreed to install U.S. capacity by 2016 after winning a major supply contract with GM. He hopes to expand his U.S. workforce to 3,000 over time.

Moraine Mayor Elaine Allison said the town of about 6,300 is "just starting to see the benefits" of Fuyao's investment. Main Street, for instance, was recently resurfaced with funds from the 2.5% income tax that workers pay.

"It has just been a blessing for us," she said.

Fuyao is among a group of new companies adding jobs in a U.S. auto industry that looks far different from the one that collapsed during the financial crisis. Today, Tesla Motors Inc., China's Yangfeng Automotive Trim Systems Co., Spain's Gestamp and many others have built or refurbished factories.

Some of those companies, including Fuyao, filled a hole left by auto suppliers that went out of business and, in some cases, were snapped up by private-equity companies during the financial crisis. Fuyao's opening in Moraine adds much needed auto-glass capacity in the U.S.

As a result, auto-production employment is nearly one million, its highest level since 2008 -- the same year GM closed the Moraine plant -- according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers at these factories nationwide, however, make 3% less an hour on average than they were making eight years ago.

That is tough medicine for Moraine and nearby Dayton. Richard Stock, who is director of the Business Research Group at the University of Dayton, estimates that even though employment is up, paychecks are down. "We've lost around $120 [a person] a week," he said, noting the region went from earning more than the national average to earning less in an eight-year span.

"Those jobs back in the day with GM aren't around anymore," Ms. Allison said. A commercial-lending officer who in a dual role has been involved in city government since the 1990s, the mayor said residents have adjusted to a "new reality."

Mr. Stock notes that in addition to Fuyao, companies undertaking logistics or warehousing work have replaced the old guard. While it is tougher getting by on $14 or $15 an hour, he said, "the people who sneer at those jobs do not have any sympathy around here."

Even at a lower wage, an American workforce is still pricey for a Chinese company that until recently was shipping automotive glass from China to a Honda Motor Co. assembly plant within a couple of hours of Ohio's I-75 industrial corridor.

Walking the floor, Fuyao Glass America President John Gauthier estimates Moraine's workers are five-times more expensive than Chinese ones.

To hold down costs, Fuyao is using lots of robots in the U.S. Employees are charged with finding new ways to replace human labor, though Mr. Gauthier said workers like Mr. Taste will always be needed in the glass business.

"We want willing hands who really want to dig in."

After about 11 months on the job, Mr. Taste quickly climbed the ranks, turning a bottom-rung job into a supervisor's role. His pay has risen by $6-an-hour since he joined, and he now earns more than he did he at Wal-Mart after 17 years of service. He is also looking forward to being able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays at home.

New workers who come in and complain about starting at the bottom get this advice from Mr. Taste: "I tell them 'you're not going to make more than $12 an hour anywhere sweeping. This is what you have to do until they get you to your work stations.' "

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