When President Obama and Vice President Biden broke ground at two Michigan electric car battery plants in 2010 — both built with $300 million of stimulus money — unemployed workers in the region rejoiced. Two years later, though, it turns out that the two Korean companies in charge of the plants, LG Chem and Dow Kokam, have used many Korean parts and hired Korean nationals to fill jobs, according to CBS.
“I think there’s a lot of anger out there, not to be confused with any sort of prejudice against anyone from another country,” said Mark Mangione, who represents 1,000 labor union members in west Michigan. “This is American taxpayer dollars and there should be American jobs that are created with those American taxpayer dollars.”
Adding to the outrage is LG Chem and Dow Kokam’s ignorance of transparency on the matter. The number of Korean workers currently working in Michigan on the projects is difficult to ascertain. The two companies claim all of their workers are skilled workers, but Michiganders nonetheless feel slighted. Training of Americans on U.S. soil is what they want.
Unions, which have received little cooperation in their inquiry, have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, hoping to look at LG Chem’s payroll.
Energy Department officials say they’re confident all laws are being obeyed, but declined our interview request to talk about foreign workers on stimulus jobs. The companies pointed us to broad totals, saying stimulus money has indirectly helped create 2,000 temporary construction jobs and 300 full time jobs.
The stimulus brought new jobs to Michigan, and for that everyone is thankful. It just seems that not all of these jobs were filled by Michigan workers…or American workers at all for that matter.