Fuyao Glass America Weathers Resistance
The signing of the “Phase One” trade agreement between the U.S. and China on Jan. 15 could mark an easing of tensions between the two countries after a two-year long trade war. Nevertheless, the economic relationship between the countries remains complicated. Despite these conditions, Fuyao Glass America, a U.S.-based subsidiary of the Chinese company Fuyao Group, has continued to invest in the U.S. glass market, though its relatively new American presence has faced some resistance.
In 2014, Fuyao Glass America reopened a GM plant that had been shuttered in 2008 in Moraine, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton. The Moraine plant now manufactures auto glass, supplied by its float plant in Mt. Zion, Illinois, which was formerly owned by PPG.
While many in the local area initially welcomed the return of manufacturing jobs, the company has also faced controversy since opening its U.S. subsidiary. An employee died in an accident at the company’s Moraine facility in March 2018 and in May of the same year, the Dayton Daily News reported that 548 employees of the company had joined a class-action lawsuit, alleging violations of overtime law. In December 2019, the company agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle the suit.
Fuyao has received media attention as well; the company’s reopening of the Moraine, Ohio, plant was the subject of the 2019 Netflix documentary, “American Factory,” the first offering from the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground. The film, which received a fairly positive reception from American critics and recently won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, chronicles the Fuyao’s refurbishing of the GM plant, reopening it as an auto glass manufacturer, and the culture clash that ensued between Chinese management and American workers.
Despite these troubles, Fuyao continues to invest in its North American holdings. The company will open a $16.1-million processing center in Fountain Inn, South Carolina, creating 70 jobs, according to the company. In addition, Fuyao officials began 2020 announcing a plan to invest $46 million in its Moraine plant, which will include the purchase of production equipment, as well as the creation of 100 jobs, say company officials.