Recently, foreign media reported that many employees are concerned that TSMC may deviate from its research and development focus, and potential cultural conflicts have made some employees reluctant to be dispatched to the United States. TSMC responded by stating that each wafer factory established locally has different characteristics and atmospheres, including Taiwan. TSMC assists new employees to smoothly integrate into the corporate culture, and training programs and overseas assignments are ongoing.
So what is it like to work at TSMC’s US plant? The wife of a self-proclaimed employee of the plant revealed “the top ten surprises” that they only found out after arriving in the United States during a presentation, and advised TSMC warriors in Taiwan not to be “sold foolishly to the United States without knowing it.”
Breaking News: “The top ten surprises” phenomenon
1. Employee Meals
Currently, the employees at the US plant do not have an employee cafeteria. The meals provided at the Temp Office (temporary office) cost $8 per meal and are so bad that no one wants to eat them. Now, meal service has been canceled, and employees have to cook for themselves and use the microwave to reheat leftover food at the company. Some people in Taiwan do not know how to cook rice at all, and they spend a lot of time preparing meals for their husbands and taking care of their children every day.
2. Employee Accommodation
The glamorous employee dormitories depicted in the reports turned out to be a scam. Prior to departure, the employees only filled out a questionnaire, but they never saw the houses they were supposed to stay in. They were forced to rent a two-bedroom apartment for $2,500 per month, with a binding three-year contract. The employee was overwhelmed and exclaimed, “I never thought in my life that I would come to the United States and live in a poor little apartment, and have to be influenced by unfamiliar TSMC colleagues. The living conditions are terrible and there is no soundproofing at all.”
She further complained that the questionnaire indicated that the place to live was determined by lottery, but everyone knew that the leaders lived in outdoor rooms that only required a one-year contract. Small engineers had to comply with policies and live in shoddy dormitories with a three-year contract. “When I first moved in, the washing machine drainage pipe was chewed by mice and couldn’t be used. I’ve never seen so many mice in my life. Is this a place for people to live? Besides work, I can’t even get a good rest or sleep after work. I had to learn all kinds of plumbing and electrical skills to fix everything myself because no one was there to fix them. The leaders always put a lot of pressure on the employees regarding AR (accounts receivable). Whenever I asked when the dormitory issues would be resolved, there was never an answer.”
3. Annual Party
While TSMC in Taiwan is discussing the annual party and lucky draw, the US factory doesn’t even have an annual party. They only had a Chinese New Year BBQ party, which had an entrance fee of $5 and was held at the employee dormitory mentioned earlier. “I’m already spending $2,500 a month on rent, and my holiday is being forced to be held at my own apartment.”
4. Abuse of Power by Management
Since everyone lives close to each other, it’s convenient to carpool. However, it always seems like only the managers are riding in the engineers’ cars. In order to get a good performance review, the engineers have to swallow their complaints.
5. Unusual Schedule
In order to coordinate with the Taiwan headquarters’ schedule, employees in the US have to work from Sunday to Thursday, from 1 PM to 10 PM. However, there are no overtime benefits for this unusual schedule. There is only a laughable “China-Taiwan night shift” allowance, and the hourly wage is still calculated based on the Taiwan pay scale.
6. Prohibition of Leave
The managers are afraid of being seen as too lenient by their Taiwan superiors, so they strictly forbid the engineers in the US from taking leave. However, Americans take sick leave and go on vacations without any consequences. The promise of equal treatment for all is nonexistent. The engineers from Taiwan still have to come to work even if they have a confirmed illness. The so-called “one year, one ticket home” benefit seems like it will never be used.
7. Dark Tax Laws and Exchange Rates
The company had promised to distribute year-end bonuses in Taiwan, but unexpectedly they were disbursed in the United States in January, with a 30% withholding tax using an exchange rate of 30.69 from 2022. Every pay period, 20% of the salary is withheld, and 3-5% of the exchange rate is lost. It is difficult to survive in a country where the cost of living is three times higher than in Taiwan.
8. Tax Balance
The company promised to cover the extra taxes incurred in the United States, but the employee has been unable to understand how taxes are calculated since moving to the US almost a year ago. Salaries were withheld in both Taiwan and the US, and the taxes withheld are never refunded. “I know paying taxes is our obligation, but all we want is to know how our money is being calculated. However, no one has ever explained it to us. We still came to the US despite this.”
9. Applying for US Local hire and Green Card
Thanks to an article on PTT by a knowledgeable person, the company leaders have finally agreed to help with the local hire transfer process. However, the process is slow, and the employee’s salary and benefits are comparable to those of a recent US college graduate.
10. Bizarre work culture in US factories
Finally, the employee believes that all of the company’s leaders who come to the US are only interested in getting promoted and not genuinely interested in staying. They leave behind a mess for the next person to clean up and leave as soon as their contract is up. “Every time I hear Americans complaining about TSMC’s culture, I am not surprised. What kind of company requires its employees to build factories while training Americans and expects them to be productive?”
Once: “Snatch the Head” to the United States
Starting from early November last year, TSMC has been sending its employees and their families on chartered flights to the United States, with over a thousand engineers expected to go. According to Taiwanese media reports, the engineers sent by TSMC to the US are not only the main force of the company’s Arizona fab but also key talents in revitalizing the semiconductor industry in the United States.
It is understood that TSMC’s move to the US requires at least two interviews, with the main focus on English proficiency and past performance, and requires the approval and recommendation of two deputy director-level supervisors. A senior engineer who went through the selection process to go to Phoenix revealed that the competition among the company’s engineer-level employees to be sent to the US was intense. Although the cost of living and tax rates in the US are high, TSMC offers double the base salary to its US-bound employees, which is not particularly attractive. However, the focus is on experiencing life in the US and having greater potential for promotion within the company in the future.
In terms of compensation and benefits, TSMC’s engineers stationed in the United States receive double the base salary and maintain the same bonus as those in Taiwan. As for housing, employees can choose to live in the company-provided dormitory located in the nearby Deer Valley community, with a monthly rent of $1,800 for which the company provides a $2,000 monthly subsidy. In addition, if an employee’s child reaches school age, they can attend a local school, with a monthly tuition subsidy of $700 for children aged 2-5.
However, an anonymous engineer has revealed that there are discrepancies in the treatment of American and Taiwanese employees at TSMC’s Arizona factory, such as separate performance evaluations and American employees having easier access to promotion opportunities.
The anonymous engineer pointed out several examples of unequal treatment, including differences in holiday entitlements, with Taiwanese employees receiving only 14 days of adjustment leave while American employees receive 21. Additionally, despite previous promises of no shift rotations, Taiwanese employees have been forced to rotate three shifts due to American employees’ preferences, and the salaries of American employees with the same job level are roughly double that of Taiwanese employees, with overtime pay falling below local legal standards.