TSMC Responds to Concerns Over Arizona Chip Plant

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Apple’s chipmaking partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has finally responded to concerns that have been voiced over the safety of its Arizona chip fabricating plant, as well as potential US job losses.

In a statement, the company denied that there are any safety issues at the Arizona plant’s construction site, while also addressing the concerns of some US TSMC employees that the company’s plans may lead to losing American jobs.

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TSMC announced its plans to build and operate an advanced semiconductor fabrication plant in the state of Arizona back in 2020. Once production begins, the new facility is expected to turn out somewhere around 20,000 chips per month. The factory will use TSMC’s 5-nanometer fabrication process.

The chipmaker says it expects to create more than 1,600 high-tech jobs directly, and thousands more indirect jobs in the semiconductor ecosystem. Apple is also planning to use the facility to make chips for some of its older products.

There have been concerns expressed about safety measures at the plant due to reports of serious accidents, as well as two alleged deaths at the plant, one of which was said to be a drug overdose. The company is also accused of disguising a dangerous gas leak evacuation as an active shooter drill.

As the project began falling behind schedule and going over budget, TSMC announced plans to bring in hundreds of Taiwanese workers. This led to concerns among US employees that the move would impact the jobs of the 12,000 American workers currently employed at the site.

TSMC made a statement about the concerns over plant safety, saying it was “deeply committed” to workplace safety, with zero work-related fatalities since construction started in 2021. The chipmaker says it is regularly audited by the Arizona Department of Safety and Health (ADOSH), while also conducting its own internal audits of safety records, and adds that its injury incident rates are “significantly lower” than national and state figures.


The company also said that while bringing in Taiwanese workers is a necessity, it’s intended to be a temporary solution that will not affect US jobs.

However, a CBS5 report reveals that many US construction workers are still concerned that they will be replaced, or see their hours (and pay) cut.

As we reported in February, some TSMC managers have previously expressed concerns about the company’s plans for the US-based plant. Managers are worried that American employees won’t likely agree to work the long hours that Taiwanese workers are accustomed to, including daily overtime and weekend shifts.

Engineer Wayne Chiu, who left TSMC in 2022, said he had thought about transferring to the Arizona facility until he realized he would likely have to “pick up the slack” for American workers.

“The most difficult thing about wafer manufacturing is not technology,” Chiu told the New York Times in February. “The most difficult thing is personnel management. Americans are the worst at this because Americans are the most difficult to manage.”

The Times added that other TSMC employees added that it was a challenge to standardize processes when working with US engineers, as the American engineers questioned their processes. In Taiwan, engineers follow orders without questioning the procedures.

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