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Taiwan's TSMC, Arizona unions reach deal after months-long dispute

TSMC will try to hire US workers but 'circumstances may require' it to hire foreigners with 'specialized experience'

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Construction underway on TSMC fab in Phoenix, Arizona. (TSMC LinkedIn image)

Construction underway on TSMC fab in Phoenix, Arizona. (TSMC LinkedIn image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and an Arizona labor union council have reached an agreement to resolve ongoing labor disputes that have plagued TSMC's Phoenix project, according to a joint statement.

Bloomberg reported that the new accord follows months of negotiations between TSMC and the Arizona Building and Construction Trades Council (AZBTC). This coalition of unions has 3,000 members at the facility construction site, accounting for about a quarter of the total number of construction workers hired by TSMC for the project.

Under the terms of the pact, TSMC will collaborate with the union to establish workforce training programs and uphold transparency on public safety matters. Representatives from both labor and management will form a new committee that will hold quarterly meetings to guarantee the implementation of the measures, including at least one meeting to forecast future labor demands.

The joint statement noted that TSMC will strive to recruit employees locally, but "circumstances may require" the company to hire foreign workers with "specialized experience." Over the summer, TSMC said that there was a lack of skilled labor in the Phoenix area and the company had no alternative but to bring in workers from Taiwan, which had caused dissatisfaction among union members.

Aaron Butler, president of AZBTC, said, "Today’s agreement is a win for Arizona workers and the construction timeline of TSMC Arizona." Brian Harrison, president of TSMC Arizona remarked, “AZBTC union members have the critical skills necessary to help us complete our two advanced-chipmaking fabs, and we look forward to embarking together on a new chapter of partnership and collaboration.”

The deal fulfills a key goal of the union, which is to reach a written agreement before the U.S. Department of Commerce allocates the first round of funds from the Chip Act, with TSMC generally anticipated to be one of the first beneficiaries.

TSMC originally planned to commence mass production at the first fab in 2024, but said in July it would be postponed to 2025. TSMC said it was due to a lack of skilled workers, but this explanation disgruntled labor unions.