CHIPS Communities United: Over 50 national and local groups call on semiconductor manufacturing companies to deliver on the promise of good jobs, stronger communities, and environmental protections
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new coalition of public interest organizations, known as CHIPS Communities United (CCU), released a public letter calling on semiconductor companies receiving billions in U.S. tax dollars to “avoid the problems of the past and achieve a new, higher standard of accountability as prioritized by the Biden Administration.”
The new coalition’s call for action is addressed to the CEOs of top semiconductor companies that have announced plans to build semiconductor facilities using CHIPS funds, along with Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) leadership. In the letter, the coalition calls upon companies “benefiting from public subsidies to ensure that the promised economic and social benefits of the CHIPS Act are also realized for the workers and communities where facilities are situated.” The letter was signed by over 50 organizations, including labor unions and economic and environmental justice organizations concerned about the industry’s well-documented history of polluting the environment, harming workers and their children, busting unions, avoiding taxes, and burdening host communities with significant problems.
- Read the letter here.
- Major New Projects Seeking CHIPS Act Funds
- Micron - New Factory - Clay, N.Y.
- Intel - New Factory - New Albany, Ohio
- Intel - Factory Expansion - Chandler, Ariz.
- TSMC - New Factory - Phoenix, Ariz.
- Samsung - New Factory + Expansion - Taylor, Texas
- Texas Instruments - Factory Expansion - Sherman, Texas
- GlobalFoundries - Factory Expansion - Malta, N.Y.
The Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) & Science Act aims to rebuild the domestic semiconductor industry and strengthen critical supply chains with a $52 billion federal investment coupled with billions in additional state and local subsidies.
Despite its troubling history of environmental pollution, labor exploitation, tax avoidance, and health and safety risks for workers and community members, major corporations like Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Micron (NASDAQ: MU), TSMC (NYSE: TSM), Samsung (KRX: 005930), and Texas Instruments (NASDAQ: TXN) are set to receive billions in taxpayer dollars without essential commitments made to ensure the well-being of U.S. workers, consumers, and communities.
"The CHIPS & Science Act contains no mention of occupational health and safety, despite chip workers' well-documented high incidence of occupational illness," said Dr. Joseph LaDou, a prominent expert on occupational and environmental health with decades of experience treating electronics workers in Silicon Valley. "Thousands of different chemicals, metals, and gasses are used to make chips, many of them highly toxic to workers. Over my 50-year career, I’ve seen firsthand the detrimental impact this industry’s use of toxic chemicals has had on workers and their offspring, as well as on the environment. We cannot let this keep happening. Federal funding of new U.S. chip fabricators is an opportunity for federal and state agencies to require the chip industry to protect its workers."
"Rebuilding the U.S. semiconductor industry presents an opportunity to create good jobs in communities across this country," emphasized Claude Cummings Jr., President of Communications Workers of America. "But without a conscious effort, we run the risk of replicating the discriminatory structures that have led to the underrepresentation of women, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities in manufacturing jobs. Industry CEOs must guarantee, in writing, the protection of their workers and our communities before finalizing these deals."
While the CHIPS Act aims to rebuild the semiconductor industry, it currently lacks explicit provisions to ensure that the benefits of this substantial taxpayer investment reach U.S. workers and communities. Negotiating community benefit agreements (CBAs) to establish these protections as part of the deals with companies receiving subsidies is crucial, according to advocates.
"Any CHIPS investment that does not intentionally create community benefits and address barriers to high-quality employment, comprehensive workforce training opportunities, worker health and safety protections, and long-term economic and environmental impact falls short of the values that the CHIPS Act seeks to achieve and puts business gain over the needs and well-being of people," said Tylah Worrell, Executive Director of Urban Jobs Task Force of Syracuse, a local economic and racial justice organization fighting for good jobs in the region, where Micron plans to invest up to $100 billion building the largest megafab in the U.S. "We are hopeful that Micron and other semiconductor companies seriously consider the implications of their projects on workers, the environment, and our communities and sit down to negotiate comprehensive CBAs with their host communities."
CHIPS Communities United seeks to establish a new standard of accountability in line with the Biden Administration's priorities. The coalition calls upon semiconductor companies benefiting from CHIPS Act subsidies to commit to comprehensive community benefit agreements (CBAs) addressing key concerns:
Diverse Workforce: Inclusionary hiring practices, pay equity, fair schedules, childcare, and protections against discrimination to support underrepresented populations.
Workers' Rights: Respect for unionization and adoption of neutrality agreements, as well as project labor agreements for construction workers.
Health and Safety: State-of-the-art protocols, eliminating toxic chemicals, including PFAS “forever chemicals,” and replacing hazardous substances with safer alternatives.
Environmental Protection: Safeguarding air and water resources through facility design review.
Clean Energy: Commitment to renewable energy use and sustainable sourcing.
Public Infrastructure: Investment in local infrastructure improvements to strengthen and support local communities hosting new factories and production.
“We’ve been fighting for a voice on the job at my plant and met with nothing but unethical union-busting.” said Jim Woods, a worker at semiconductor supply chain company, Momentive Technologies, in Strongsville, OH. “Our taxpayer dollars shouldn’t go to companies that break the law and don’t respect workers’ right to organize. U.S. workers are ready to build the technology of the future, we just want to be protected while doing it.”
As the federal government negotiates CHIPS agreements with semiconductor companies across the nation, comprehensive worker and community protections must be included in these negotiations.
“Thirty years ago, the federal government invested hundreds of millions in semiconductor R&D, but that didn’t secure the domestic industrial base we need. Now we have the opportunity to get it right,” said Rand Wilson, a CCU spokesperson. “As the federal government and industry partner to rebuild this industry, we must ensure workers’ rights and the safety of our communities. This is an opportunity to secure community benefits agreements, win funds for research on safer technologies, and ensure that the pro-worker and community-centered spirit of the CHIPS Act is realized. Working together, we can forge a path towards responsible semiconductor production that benefits everyone.”
“Workers, families, and communities suffer under the weight of dangerous chemical exposures when we fail to place safety guardrails for the semiconductor industry,” added Ben Jealous, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “The CHIPS Act presents an opportunity to invest in our economy and our health and safety. Semiconductor industry CEOs can – and must – fulfill the promise of the CHIPS Act by ensuring risk mitigation and tangible benefits for workers, consumers, communities, and the environment.”
About CHIPS Communities United
CHIPS Communities United (CCU) is a coalition organizing for the responsible and equitable implementation of the CHIPS Act, uniting communities where CHIPS-funded facilities are expected to be hosted. The coalition includes labor, environmental, social justice, civil rights, and community organizations representing millions of workers and community members nationwide. Together we are fighting to ensure the CHIPS Act safely benefits workers and communities.
Signers of the letter include the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Environmental Working Group (EWG), Good Jobs First, Greenpeace USA, International Campaign for Responsible Technology, Jobs With Justice, Jobs to Move America, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH), National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), National Women’s Law Center, Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), Sierra Club, United Auto Workers (UAW), UNITE HERE, along with dozens of other national, state, and local groups.
For more information visit: www.CHIPSCommunitiesUnited.com.