GlobalFoundries Wants $300 Million More from NYS Taxpayers While Paying Down Debt for Singapore Chip Fab Plant

When it comes to scamming workers in the name of “JOBS,” big multinational corporations have few peers.  Case in point: GlobalFoundries, the chip fab company set up by AMD, now majority-owned by Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC).

GlobalFoundries has already hit up New York State taxpayers for a cool 1.2 billion to build a chip fabrication plant in upstate New York.  Construction is underway, and now the company says it wants to expand on its original plans, and is coming hat in hand to New York State with a request for $300 million more aid.

According to the Troy Record, “Company spokesperson Travis Bullard confirmed Friday that GlobalFoundries is considering expanding the planned ‘cleanroom’ — the manufacturing floor of the plant — by as much as 50 percent.  The current plans call for the cleanroom to be 210,000 square-feet.”

Meanwhile over in Singapore, according to Business Week, “GlobalFoundries Singapore has paid down about a quarter of its debt since the end of 2009, when its long-term debt and capital lease obligations totaled $1.91 billion.  The company said it has already retired $565 million of that debt, and is on track to reduce total indebtedness by around $861 million due to actions taken since it was acquired by Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), which is AMD’s joint venture partner in GlobalFoundries.”

And the response of local New York State politicians to GlobalFoundries’ request, politicians who have no fear of citing the state deficit as a reason to cut jobs, pensions, and close state parks?

According to the Troy Record, Republican State Senator Roy McDonald “said the project is so important to the area that the incentives are worthwhile.  ‘We’ve got the biggest construction project in the U.S. going on right now in our backyard,’ he said.  ‘If we weren’t pursuing this economic development, the money would be going elsewhere in the state to create jobs.”

Democratic State Assemblyman Ron Canestrari told the Albany Business Journal: “They’re just too important to ignore.  They have a proven track record; it’s not like a new kid on the block looking for additional money, I want to do all we can to secure them here.”  According to the Business Review, “If a budget passes with no capital funds, Canestrari said he could ‘scrounge around’ to collect unspent capital funds from
the state’s current fiscal year, and redirect them to GlobalFoundries.”

To add insult to injury, Abu Dhabi, through another investment arm, owns nine percent of Apollo Management, owner of Momentive Performance Materials, whose Waterford, New York chemical plant cut production workers pay anywhere from 25 to 50 percent in 2008.  The workers there, represented by IUE/CWA 81359, are fighting the pay cuts through the National Labor Relations Board and have a contract that expires in June.

There is reason to believe that the attack on the Momentive workers pay is related to the chip fab industry’s union free status.  The median pay for production workers in the industry here in the USA is $15 per hour.

IUE/CWA 81359 members and members of the local labor movement in the Capital Region of New York are meeting on Wednesday, March 31 with noted labor activist Steve Early, to discuss how to respond to the wage cuts at Momentive.  This new development around GlobalFoundries will only add fuel to the fire fraying the relations between New York workers and a state government less and less responsive to workers concerns.

Jon Flanders Jon Flanders is a member and former president of IAM LL 1145 and a member of the Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

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