MORAINE, Ohio — When a giant Chinese glassmaker arrived here in 2014 and began spending what would become more than a half-billion dollars to fix up an abandoned General Motors plant, it seemed like a tale from opposite land: The Chinese are supposedly stealing American jobs — as no less an authority than President Trump has pointed out.
But now the Chinese were suddenly creating them. More than 1,500 jobs, in fact.
福耀正面临着全美汽车工人联合会(United Automobile Workers)发起的激烈工会运动，以及一名前经理提起的诉讼，他说自己因为不是中国人而走人。
一名名叫丽莎·康诺利(Lisa Connolly)的员工抱怨说，如果没有足够早地提前申请带薪假，福耀就会以旷工为由对工人进行纪律处分。一个名叫詹姆斯·马丁(James Martin)的前雇员表示，公司让他暴露在刺鼻的化学物质中，令他的双臂起疱，肺活量变小（马丁今年1月在补休期间丢了工作，理由是旷工记录太多）。
去年11月，联邦职业安全与卫生署（Occupational Safety and Health Administration，简称OSHA）对福耀的一些违规行为处以了逾22.5万美元的罚款，比如没有足够好的锁定机制，以在工人修理或保养设备时，关闭机器电源。在今年1月份之前担任OSHA负责人的乔治华盛顿大学教授戴维·迈克尔斯(David Michaels)表示，这种失误在竞争激烈的汽车零部件行业中很常见，它很容易导致断肢甚至死亡事故。
福耀的工人们表示，安全措施有所改善，不过也有人指出，有些问题依然存在。员工德安娜·威尔森(DeAnn Wilson)抱怨称，尽管她在排放烟雾的机器周围工作，但她所在的区域没有适当的通风设备（福耀的健康和安全主管约翰·克兰[John Crane]表示，那些烟雾是热空气进入寒冷房间产生的蒸汽）。
这种观点与戴维·伯罗斯(David Burrows)的法律诉讼相一致。去年11月，伯罗斯被解除了工厂副总裁的职位。一同被免职的还有工厂总裁约翰·高蒂尔(John Gauthier)。
密歇根大学(University of Michigan)的利伯索尔-罗杰尔中国研究中心(Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies)主任玛丽·加拉格尔(Mary Gallagher)表示，曹德旺这样的企业家通常会雇佣农民工在自己的工厂里工作，他们认为那些人比较顺从，与美国工人不同，后者期望更友好平等的管理风格。“他之前很可能从未经受过来自劳方的这种压力，”她说。
不过，加州大学圣迭戈分校(University of California, San Diego)的政治经济学教授史为夷表示，中国在非洲和亚洲的海外投资都表现出不愿把业务交给当地人管理的模式。
The Chinese company, Fuyao Glass Industry Group, decided the money was worth spending in this Dayton suburb to be close to its key customers, the big American-based automakers that buy millions of windshields each year.
And it was not alone.
From 2000 to the first quarter of this year, the Chinese have invested almost $120 billion in the United States, according to the Rhodium Group, which tracks these flows. Nearly half of that amount has come since early 2016, making China one of this country’s largest sources of foreign direct investment during that time.
But with the explosion of investment has come unexpected trouble. At Fuyao, a major culture clash is playing out on the factory floor, with some workers questioning the company’s commitment to operating under American supervision and American norms.
Fuyao faces an acrimonious union campaign by the United Automobile Workers and a lawsuit by a former manager who says he was let go in part because he is not Chinese.
The investment has even prompted hand-wringing in China, where comments by the company’s chairman, a self-made billionaire named Cao Dewang, stirred a debate over the country’s competitiveness. “Cao Dewang behaved like a traitor,” wrote one person on Weibo, the popular Chinese microblogging site. “You set up a factory in the U.S. to solve employment there.”
Solving employment is, of course, the promise that Mr. Trump rode to office. Since his victory, foreign companies like Bayer, SoftBank and Infosys have moved to align themselves with that goal — and avoid an America-first backlash — by promoting plans for thousands of United States-based jobs. But the experience of the Fuyao plant shows the potential pitfalls along the way.
The union, which began meeting with workers in 2015, escalated its public efforts in April with a fiery meeting highlighting arbitrarily enforced rules and retaliation against those who speak up.
An employee named Lisa Connolly complained that Fuyao disciplined workers for absences if they didn’t request their paid time off far enough in advance, while a former employee named James Martin said the company had exposed him to harsh chemicals that blistered his arms and diminished his lung capacity. (Mr. Martin lost his job for excessive absences while on workers’ compensation leave in January.)
Fred Strahorn, the Democratic minority leader of the Ohio House of Representatives, told the audience that Fuyao’s operation felt like “a little bit of a hostage situation” and pledged to “show Fuyao that we do things a little bit different in Dayton, Ohio.”
In November, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Fuyao more than $225,000 for violations such as insufficient access to locks that shut down power to a machine when workers fix or maintain it. Such lapses are common in the brutally competitive auto parts industry, said David Michaels, a professor at George Washington University who headed OSHA until January, but they can easily lead to amputation or even death.
The company reached an agreement in March that reduced the amount to $100,000 and required corrective measures.
Eric Vanetti, the vice president for human resources, conceded an element of turmoil at the plant late last year. But he said that the atmosphere had improved significantly in the past few months and that many of the new safety measures were underway before the OSHA settlement. The company also recently gave hourly production employees a $2-an-hour raise.
One complication at Fuyao is the relative novelty of Chinese “greenfield” investments in the United States, in which foreign companies build new facilities rather than acquire existing ones.
The approach has advantages for both sides. “If I didn’t invest in the Dayton area, it’s very unlikely anyone would invest any more in the automotive glass industry in the U.S.,” Mr. Cao said.
Kristi Tanner, a senior official at JobsOhio, the private economic development corporation for Ohio, which helped lure Fuyao to the state, said in a statement that the company “has transformed a long-vacant former G.M. assembly plant and provided an economic lift.”
But projects can suffer when investors are unfamiliar with the American regulatory and political environment, as is true for many executives in China, where labor standards tend to be less strictly enforced.
In 2014, a Chinese copper tube maker called Golden Dragon opened a plant in Wilcox County, Ala., to Fuyao-esque fanfare, investing more than $100 million to create an anticipated 300 local jobs. By the end of the year, amid complaints about lax safety and low wages, workers narrowly voted to unionize.
At Fuyao, workers say there have been safety improvements, though some cite continuing problems. One employee, DeAnn Wilson, complained that her area lacks proper ventilation even though she works around machines that emit smoke. (John Crane, Fuyao’s health and safety director, said the smoke was vapor that resulted from warm air entering a chilled room.)
Other workers said that despite the company’s insistence that it wanted to hand the plant over to American managers, it had increased the proportion of Chinese supervisors in recent months.
That contention is consistent with the legal complaint of David Burrows, who was ousted as a vice president for the plant in November, along with the plant’s president, John Gauthier.
“Since those two have been fired, it has more of a Chinese feel than what it was before,” said Duane Young, a worker at the plant. He said the Chinese had little interest in training, sharing responsibility with or even engaging with American employees.
In an interview in Beijing, Mr. Cao said he had replaced Mr. Burrows and Mr. Gauthier because “they didn’t do their jobs but squandered my money.” He lamented that productivity at the plant “is not as high as we have in China,” adding that “some of the workers are just idling around.”
Athena Hou, the chief legal officer for Fuyao Glass America, called Mr. Burrows’s suit “legally meritless.” Mr. Gauthier and Mr. Burrows did not respond to requests for comment.
To some extent, cultural norms may explain the tensions.
Mary Gallagher, who directs the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan, said entrepreneurs like Mr. Cao often populate their factories with migrants from rural areas, whom they expect to be relatively submissive, unlike American workers, who expect a more collegial management style. “He hasn’t ever had probably this type of pressure from a work force,” she said.
Workers at the Fuyao plant say Chinese managers seem to elevate production goals above all else. When employees have trouble with equipment and ask to shut it down, said Nicholas Tannenbaum, a Fuyao worker who was fired in late May, “the Chinese look at us and say, ‘No need.’”
“They’re jumping on moving conveyors to fix it as the line is running,” he added.
Mr. Vanetti, the head of human resources, said the company had not sacrificed safety to meet production targets. But he conceded that “the fundamental difference between Chinese and Americans is that the Chinese have a bias toward speed; Americans like to process things, think it through from all angles.”
Mr. Vanetti said that Fuyao remained committed to its original four-to-five-year timetable for handing the plant to a predominantly American management corps, and that it recently hired two more American vice presidents.
But Weiyi Shi, a professor of political economy at the University of California, San Diego, said Chinese overseas investments in Africa and Asia showed a pattern of reluctance to transfer operations to local control.
“At the managerial level, you see that the technical staff tends to be from China,” she said. “The one local employee they hire at a senior managerial level would be the human resources director.”