Hasbro, whose only products produced in America are Milton Bradley and Parker Bros Games, has announced they will be making their iconic Play-Doh at a facility in Massachusetts starting in 2018. The Pawtucket based toy company said they will be manufacturing the toy in it’s already established facility, which as of now makes board games only, and will hire 20 new employees.
The toy company has had a rocky past with some of their Chinese manufacturing facilities, as a report in 2014 detailed various human rights violations and poor working conditions in the overseas factory. Workers were paid only about $100 US dollars per month, the equivalent of what’s considered minimum wage, as well as being forced to work excessive overtime.
Over the years Hasbro has outsourced the manufacture of its products to third-party companies, mostly in China. At the Chinese factories, which Hasbro does not directly own or operate, migrant workers are compensated with meager salaries for their labor. At one such factory, in Dongguan, China, basic assembly line jobs pay a little over one hundred US dollars per month, China’s minimum wage. A report released by China Labor Watch in 2014 revealed numerous abuses at Hasbro’s Chinese supplier companies, including labor contract violations, excessive and illegal overtime, poor living conditions, environmental pollution, and more. The report was investigated by a congressional hearing in December 2014.
Hasbro was quick to disconnect themselves from President Trump, yet the manufacturing shift aligns with his “America first” policies and focus on making it more profitable for companies to manufacture domestically.
Hasbro executives said the decision was not in response to the election of President Donald Trump, who has boasted that he plans to bring back manufacturing jobs from overseas. Rather, the plan is intended to supplement production after Play-Doh sales have increased 20 percent annually over the past five years.
Hasbro’s stock has been trading at an all-time high recently after announcing revenue of $5 billion last year. It reported a net operating profit of $788 million for the year, it’s highest in at least the past five years.
On Friday, the company’s shares closed at $97.77, giving the company a market cap of $12.3 billion. Hasbro employs 5,400 persons around the globe, with about 2,600 of them located in the United States, according to a federal filing.
If Hasbro’s decision had nothing to do with President Trump, his policies or his focus on relaxing business regulations, than one has to wonder why they wouldn’t just add more cheap Chinese labor to their existing overseas operations? Instead, they have chosen to bring jobs back to America, which suspiciously aligns with exactly the goals Trump has mandated for his administration.
Any company returning any amount of manufacturing to America is a step in the right direction and I suspect as Trump continues his pro-American worker policies, more and more companies will be reconsidering their outsourcing operations, regardless of whether they admit it’s due to the president’s policies or not.