Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Film: American Factory

Netflix has recently released a new documentary entitled American Factory. This film chronicles the opening of a branch plant of Fuyao Glass America in economically depressed Dayton, Ohio by a Chinese billionaire. The location has previously been the site of a General Motors plant that was closed, putting thousands of workers out of a job.

The documentary (which notably includes no narration) tracks the first two years of the factory's operations and the clash of cultures that it entails. A trip to China for American workers--and the failure of the management strategies that they tried to bring back--was particularly striking. The vulnerability of the local workforce to exploitation and their awareness of their vulnerability is nicely captured.

The film explores the relentless work of employers to shed jobs and increase productivity (regardless of the cost to workers). It also does a nice job of exploring the tactics of both the union and the employer during a union drive.

-- Bob Barnetson

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