By on January 7, 2014
Workers at Tesla's Fremont plant celebrate the 1,000th Model S body built, 2012.

Workers at Tesla’s Fremont plant celebrate the 1,000th Model S body built, 2012.

United Auto Workers president Bob King has said that the labor union is interested in organizing Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont, California and that a group of workers at the site have set up an organizing committee for the UAW. That factory is where Tesla assembles the battery powered Model S. Tesla has prided itself in being different from Detroit and its headquarters’ location, the Silicon Valley, is not exactly a labor hotbed.

While under King the autoworkers’ union has been more collaborative than confrontational with automakers, should the UAW organize Tesla that would undoubtedly affect the corporate culture at the EV startup. “Elon [Musk]‘s attitude was always, ‘We’re going to Silicon Valley-ize the car business,’ ” Karl Brauer, with Kelley Blue Book told the SFGate.com. “If he goes union, he’s going to take a huge step toward falling in line with the industry that he used to make fun of.”

It’s a testy subject. Despite King’s comments, when contacted by the San Francisco Chronicle, the UAW’s public relations director would not comment. Neither would Tesla, nor many of their employees. For Musk’s part he seems ambivalent. When Tesla purchased the Fremont facility from Toyota (which had formerly operated it with General Motors as the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (Nummi) plant) Musk said, ”on the question of the union, we’re neutral.”  However, Tesla Motors’ last annual financial report listed possible union activity under business “risks”: ”The mere fact that our labor force could be unionized may harm our reputation in the eyes of some investors and thereby negatively affect our stock price. Additionally, the unionization of our labor force could increase our employee costs and decrease our profitability, both of which could adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.”

In August, King told WardsAuto that Musk had repeated his neutral position at a meeting with union representatives, but that other Tesla executives were less open to the idea of an organized labor force. Musk, King said, was ”very open and said he would respect what the workers wanted. But his operating management has done the opposite.”

Tesla’s Fremont plant is the only remaining car assembly plant on the West Coast. When it was called NUMMI, it employed 4,700 workers, most recently building Tacoma pickups and Corolla sedans. Current employment is estimated to be about 2,000, many of who are experienced autoworkers, having worked at the facility under prior management.

Employee reviews of Tesla posted online mention a fast pace and long hours. That’s typical of many Silicon Valley startups, which typically focus more on engineering than manufacturing. While work hours are a traditional wedge issue that labor unions use to rally workers onto their side, the frenetic pace in Silicon Valley is part of the culture there. ”Engineering lends itself to a different style of self-starters, independent-minded people, survival of the fittest,” said Art Pulaski, head of the California Labor Federation labor union. ”Manufacturing is different.”

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81 Comments on “UAW Sets Up Organizing Committee At Tesla Motors’ Fremont Assembly Plant...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Oh now this should be interesting.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    If the labor unions actually managed to infect tech and finance, the democrats would likely start losing funding at a really fast rate. They ain’t gonna let those golden geese in the oven.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Somebody has to pay the taxes to support the overpaid, make work, jobs for life, with ridiculous pensions, for all the public sector union workers in California.

      Public sector unions have already forced Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and San Bernadino into bankruptcy.

      “Two former police chiefs in San Bernardino receive similarly high pensions. Keith Kilmer receives $216,581 annually, while working another job. His predecessor, Michael Billdt, who has no college degree and was accused of trying to bribe an officer to withdraw a union grievance in exchange for a dropped investigation, receives $205,014.”

      http://rt.com/usa/california-bankrupt-taxpayers-pensions-874/

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I’ve been trying to figure out the difference between a Union Bum and a Union Thug, and the answer finally hit me.

    Just as in real estate, it’s location, location, location.

    If the guy’s at his work station, he’s a Union Bum. If he’s on the picket line, he’s a Union Thug.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Well if you’re a teacher, you’re a union thug right up until someone is shooting at you – then you’re a hero.

      If you’re in EMS you’re a hero if die by the hundreds in a terrorist attack, but you’re a union thug if you survived said terrorist attack and want the medical treatment to keep you alive from your injuries.

      Any questions?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        You actually have it right. Context matters; none of us are monolithic.

        Some union men are good husbands but beat up their boss with words; some non-union men are popular at work but beat their wives.

    • 0 avatar
      Bob

      I’m a Trade Union member I will explain the difference between Bums and Thugs. Union Bums, or Hall Bums as we call them are the members who get mad at people for working to hard and being professional. If you are trying to be a good productive worker, further your career, and advance in a company then you are called a shoppie or worm (someone loyal to the company instead of your slug union “brothers”). The Union bums are the guys who want to do as little work as possible and basically put every company out of business. A Union Thug you can see standing near an inflatable rat in front of a nonunion company or job site. Instead of trying to organize companies and workers in a civilized manner by promoting the positive side of the union they just use humiliation and bullying to shame people and companies into organizing.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Interesting. Musk, who usually has no issues letting his opinion fly free on Twitter, isn’t commenting on this and was previously “neutral” on the topic.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      It’s illegal for management to block unionization efforts. For that reason, he has to remain neutral for the record. (Whether he actually is neutral is another matter.)

  • avatar
    stevejac

    I’m not an auto worker, nor am I invested in Tesla. I’m a pediatrician in the area and many of my patients’ parents worked at NUMMI. One couple met on the line (he installed one door, she the opposite). Some now work at Tesla. None has shared with me anything about working conditions. They have all seemed like reasonable people and good parents.

    All I really know about NUMMI is what I’ve read, and apparently that factory’s union work force made an excellent product. I seem to recall that their quality surpassed Toyota’s other plants here in the US and in Japan.

    I have no love for the UAW itself but there needs to be some voice for labor in the running of companies. Everyone looks to his or her self interest. The union bias balances that of management. With corporate profits going through the roof, and salaries stagnant, it doesn’t seem like labor’s influence is excessive.

    I’ll now don on my flame suit.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      On that note, how about an entirely new union form and represent folks at the Tesla plant?

      • 0 avatar
        autojim

        Won’t happen. A local-only union without national affiliation doesn’t typically have much pulling power. And the startup/operating costs are pretty high. The UAW national organization handles payroll, etc. for its officers, and while in-plant committeemen are typically paid by the company to do union work (translation: be a pain in the company’s backside), union officers are typically paid directly by the union.

        Also, given that the UAW already has an interest and apparently an organizing effort underway at Fremont, and a history in that building, good luck getting a startup to last. You want ugly, try muscling in on an existing union’s turf.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      If Tesla management provides a good work environment, reasonable pay, clean and safe working conditions, and listens to their line workers there is probably very little the UAW could bring to the table. If management is not treating workers fairly in these respects the UAW may be able to make a case that they can improve workers employment situations.

      Unions tend to be a reaction to bad management; few people want to pay union dues and put up their BS if they are already being treated well.

      As a side note, the NUMMI plant went from being one of GM’s worst to one of their best thanks to Toyota’s management changes.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Exactly

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @Toad – Agreed.

      • 0 avatar
        CarnotCycle

        It’s also worth noting the NUMMI regime at Fremont, union especially included, ran itself so well and built such good stuff Tesla picked it up for a steal in a rigged deal better than bankruptcy court. GM was broke but Toyota sure wasn’t; they could have got same sweet firesale deal, but first chance they got they ran from the UAW.

        And there is no way Tesla would have bought the Fremont plant (Plan A was Model S’s being built in New Mexico I believe) if the union came with the plant.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      At this point, the UAW is seriously cash strapped.

      The new members would essentially be subsidizing the existing members, with the genuine risk that the union won’t be there when it’s their turn to rely upon it.

      If the Tesla workers want to unionize, then they would be wise to find an alternative to the UAW that has a better balance sheet and that doesn’t have a predisposition to help the old line workers at the expense of the new ones.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      I’ll bite just for the hell of it (despite my actual feelings)

      They are just the workers and have no right to anything other than what the owners offer. Their value is entirely determined by the market I regard less of the skill set required. Line worker or french cook what is the difference? Neither requires an advanced education.

      Damn auto correct, end of lunch as well

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        raph, by law virtually all workers do have an absolute legal right to organize a union and bargain regarding wages, benefits and working conditions. That has been federal law since the 1930′s.

        Whether they choose to do so and what the consequences might be are a separate discussion.

    • 0 avatar
      E46M3_333

      “…there needs to be some voice for labor in the running of companies.”

      No there doesn’t. What expertise in running companies to line workers have? I suppose the water boy should have a hand in calling plays for the Patriots…
      .
      .

      • 0 avatar
        AlternateReality

        Great analogy, and closer to the truth than most unskilled workers – and their apologists – would care to acknowledge.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The players are the line workers/labor. Some of them call plays. The NFL players have a union too. I have no dog in this fight, just pointing that out.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Ideally the union would represent a counter-weight to the managers who are just looking to bust out some good numbers for the next quarter, since they have a long term interest in the health of the company that will be paying their pension and providing jobs to their members and future members.

        In an ideal world. Pretty sure the UAW is not an ideal union.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I can’t wait for the ironic haterade to get posted. “Why how dare they organize against a billionaire!” The actual MANUFACTURING of high tech is radically different from the design and engineering of high tech. I really doubt high tech manufacturing line workers get stock options, gourmet food, and in-plant masseuse to work insane hours. I believe that some engineer had designed their line jobs and exactly what they do. Maybe the line workers needs some perk too.

    • 0 avatar
      AlternateReality

      Curse that evil billionaire for providing the rabble with the opportunity to work for money!

      Perhaps those workers should fully understand what they hired on for, and either be content with that, or attempt to seek their caviar and massages elsewhere?

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I certainly don’t curse the evil billionare for providing jobs to the masses.

        But I do curse the evil billionare when they provide “jobs” for the masses at the cost of huge doses of corporate welfare, and keep their workers in poverty. Walmart and the Walton family immediately comes to mind.

        It’s a stunningly broken system.

        Walmart (or any other employer for that matter) can get up to $24,000 in tax credits for each employee they hire that is on public assistance and/or a veteran. $24K – PER EMPLOYEE in tax credit. Now consider that the average pay for the average Walmart worker is $25K a year – gee, thanks for nothing. We, the American taxpayer are covering the payroll.

        Wait, it gets better. You see if they keep that worker in poverty by paying them below market wages, that worker still needs public assistance. Food stamps, Section 8 housing, school lunches (which they qualify for if they are on food stamps). There is just something very un-American to be working 40 hours a week, week in and week out, giving 100% and still being below the poverty line.

        But that’s OK, because the evil billionare gets to keep their money. The average taxpayer funds Walmart to the tune of about $800K to $1.2Mil per store (depending on who’s math you use) in public assistance. So we are subsidizing Walmart’s payroll.

        Now remember, they got a tax credit for hiring the person in poverty – but they have an incentive to keep them in poverty because they can keep drawing public assistance. Which disincentives the worker at the same time Walmart is getting their payroll subsidized by you and me. And I don’t know about you – but I’m no billionare.

        But it gets worse. Because guess what. Those Walmart workers? Well they get an EBT card. Now where do you think those food stamp EBT dollars are going to be spent? Pathmark? Safeway? Kroeger? Ha! They’ll be spent at Walmart. So ka-ching, their profits are subsidized a third time, on the backs of the average taxpaying American.

        So those wonderful Walton’s, and the Walmart empire gets:

        1) Tax credits to hire people on public assistance
        2) Subsidization of their payroll by paying at rates and giving them hours that keeps them on public assistance
        3) Subsidized profits when those same employees spend their food stamp dollars at Walmart

        Oh yes – thank you billionare Walmart family – thank you for the wonderful jobs you provide. So grateful I am.

        Ya – I get it – in some ways I should be grateful because a fair number of people who work at Walmart couldn’t find a job somewhere else if their life depended on it.

        But stores like Costco pay a living wage, offer outstanding benefits, make huge profits, and have employee churn that even a non-retail employer would love to have (about 11% per year).

        Stores like Winco are “employee owned,” provide profit sharing, don’t play fast and loose with hours to weasel out of paying for benefits, and offer prices to their customers even lower than Walmart (Winco has the lowest prices of any supermarket chain in America). They can do all that, and make a reasonable profit.

        Look at how Boeing played the IAM in Puget Sound like a fiddle – in the face of record EPS, profits, and deliveries.

        The system is broken.

        Lets go back to Henry Ford – that simpleton had such a dumb idea. The person building the Ford Model T, should be able to afford to build the Model T. They should work a 40 hour week, have some vacation time, and be able to afford a modest home. In other words, someone building a Ford, should have access to the American dream. Something has become very broken in the last 100 years.

        With all of that said, I doubt Elon Musk treats the rank and file at Tesla like Walmart workers, and wish Bob King lots of luck to unionize the plant – he’s going to need it.

        Companies have two choices on keeping unions out:

        1) Fear – we’ll fire all of you and replace you if you get a union in here

        2) Fairness – you know, we don’t want a union because we’ve got a good deal on our own, but thanks

        Walmart keeps unions out using fear, I suspect Tesla can keep a union out because I suspect they are fair.

        • 0 avatar
          Don Mynack

          What does Tesla have to do with Walmart? They are not even in the same world, let alone the same business.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            And I wrote…

            …With all of that said, I doubt Elon Musk treats the rank and file at Tesla like Walmart workers, and wish Bob King lots of luck to unionize the plant – he’s going to need it…

            But the argument presented was pity the poor billionare and the jobs they “create.”

            It isn’t all pity the poor billionare out there – some of them really are scum bags working the system for all its worth.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I am not disagreeing with you in any way because the actions described all fit in with the elitist mindset but I take issue with this:

          “You see if they keep that worker in poverty by paying them below market wages,”

          What are market wages for people with little to no skillset?

          • 0 avatar
            mor2bz

            Please see movie “Made in Dagenham”. Good movie.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            This.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Ahhh, but the answer to this is…there is no answer.

            No this isn’t me punting your question. One can look at simple metrics, what is the going rate for other minimally skilled wage jobs.

            You can’t call Walmart jobs “no” skillset. You have to have a modicum of understanding to stock shelves (what to put where, matching SKUs to tags, quantities). If you’re at a cash register you need to understand all the options for transactions, work a register (go try and do it untrained some day – I use to work on WE for POS – fun stuff for a noob) and how to properly count change (think that’s easy again, sadly for many its not).

            I mean if I need someone to sweep a shop floor and take out the trash – the skill set required for this is even lower.

            So for low skillset workers – what is the prevailing wage in a particular geography – because there will be companies who pay better, and companies who pay worse.

            Is working a cash register at Costco inherently more difficult than at Walmart? I would argue its harder at Walmart given all the payment options. Costco is cash, debit, American Express or gift cards. So why if I’m a town with a Walmart and a Costco, the Costco person is paid more for the same job requiring the same horsepower?

            But back to the original point – there is no answer.

            See we have a great system here in this country. We will NEVER conquer poverty. Never, ever. Trying to conquer it is impossible anyway but our government has stacked the deck in such a way there will always be poverty because poverty is big business.

            See the poverty line is tied to a number of metrics. If we raised minimum wage to $15 an hour tomorrow it would change – nothing – in how the poverty line and those above and below are counted. The rising tide not only lifts incomes, but raises the poverty line using the Census methodology, so the same people who are “poor” today are “poor” tomorrow.

            Employers still get their tax credits, recipients still get their food stamps and Section 8 and medical and (great system ehhhh).

            I’ve always found the question, “what is a living wage” as disingenuous.

            I don’t understand why it is apparently un-American to have in your value system that someone who shows up to work, day in, day out, gives 110% 40 hours a week, and is loyal to their employer shouldn’t be paid a fair wage.

            I never said “hand out.” I never said, “freebies.” I never said, Oh save us Washington D.C. with manna from the welfare office. Fair wages for honest work.

            I can’t solve the problem – if I did I’d be in Washington D.C. working on it (actually not likely as there is little incentive to end poverty when you look at how the machine is built)

            If believing that one should earn a fair wage for honest work makes me elitist, I wear the badge with honor.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @APaGttH

            Excellent diatribe, however I’d like to point out I wasn’t implying you were an elitist, but the system you described is the product of an elitist system.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          That’s quite a rant. Do you feel better?

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          I’m with you on everything but Henry Ford. I believe that his motivation for the $5/day (huge wages for the times) was not a matter of ethics or largesse. In order to make the assembly line system work he needed to address the issue of high turnover. Workers found the repetitive nature of the assembly line stultifying and wouldn’t stick with the job until HF boosted the wage. In addition to the good wage, HF enforced a level of oversight into workers’ lives that would be unimaginable and illegal today, including home visits to ensure high moral character and appropriate “American” lifestyles.

          But, yes, without a union or something like it, mgmt holds the upper hand with all but the most skilled of workers, and the nature of business will usually cause a race to the bottom.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Ford’s business model was to maximize capacity utilization. That isn’t possible when the turnover is high. It was cheaper to pay the $5 wage than it was to produce less at lower pay; a lot of the cost of the car comes from the parts and materials, not from the labor.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          The notion that a line worker should be able to afford the product they’re building is ridiculous.

          I’m sure the people who build Bentleys can’t afford one, just as the people who build jumbo jets can’t afford one of those, either. I used to design $200k mass spectrometers 25 years ago, but nobody in the company could have afforded to actually buy one.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            But you’re examples are all not all that valid.

            The average American consumer doesn’t buy a Bentley, or a 777X, or a mass spectrometer.

            They buy Toyotas and Chevrolets and Nissans.

            If the average American can’t buy a Toyota or a Chevrolet – we’re all in trouble.

            We are a consumer based economy. 70% of our engine is based on consumer spending. 80% is when our economy is really healthy, and we’re no where near that.

            If the only way to fuel that 70% consumer spending is on 72 month sub-prime car loans, credit cards, and an endless treadmill of debt – and the average consumer can’t afford a basic new car (not a Bentley) we’re all kind of screwed.

            I mean if I follow your idea, than China sure is wasting a lot of time moving 4 million of their citizens into the middle class each month to drive further consumption and economic prosperity. Only the Communist elite should have cars – ox carts and bikes for the masses was working so well 20 years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I would argue there is a separation between industrial and consumer products and Ford’s argument is still valid for workers who manufacture consumer goods. Do Boeing employees really want a large passenger airplane? Did you ever really desire a mass spectrometer in your personal life?

            Btw, Bentley UK lists access to a leasing program under its graduate recruiting page:

            Rewards
            We offer a competitive salary, which is reviewed on a 6 monthly basis, but that’s not all! With 34 days holiday (including bank holidays), subsidised gym and restaurant facilities, a contributory pension scheme and access to our extremely competitive car lease scheme, there are lots of reasons to choose Bentley!

            http://www.bentleymotors.com/careers/graduate_development_programme/

            @APaGttH

            CP of China survived the European fall of Communism by slowly raising their people’s standard of living and now are beholden to keep the country going. If they went on Chinese television tomorrow and said we’re turning back the clock to 1974 their people would go ape sh** and revolt.

    • 0 avatar
      Waterview

      I’ve always thought that profit sharing would be the best arrangement. If we all deliver (management and labor) together, we all get to share some of the prize. I’ve seen it work very successfully in other situations, would be interesting to try it at Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      “Maybe the line workers needs some perk too.”

      We don’t know exactly what perks they have and don’t have, but the ones they have were enough for them to take the jobs. If they want more they can see if another employer is willing to offer them more.

      They can work for any Bay Area municipality, or BART, and easily make six figures with a laid back, no accountability job for life.

      Tesla made a huge mistake opening a factory in a state without right-to-work laws.

  • avatar
    morbo

    Well, the UAW has killed this factory twice. Third times the charm.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      No, the end will come about when the carbon credit selling scam finally collapses, as this is what now makes the company appear to be profitable.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        MANY years ago I watched a video with David Suzuki on the idea of carbon credits and assigning a value to natural resources to things like green space, clean air and fresh water. My naiveté young self thought this made a lot of sense. If people have a value for it, if it is “traded” like a commodity, then people are more apt to take care of it. It looks sooooooooooo good on 100% recycled paper printed with natural inks.

        The reality is the privatization and commoditization experiments for things like fresh water and green spaces have failed miserably. What happens instead is ROI and EPS kick in, and you have arguments from companies like access to drinking water is not a human right.

        The carbon credit system is a total scam – and the idea of commoditizing “nature” to protect nature is an incredibly dumb, and incredibly bad idea.

        • 0 avatar
          Don Mynack

          Have you ever even heard of economics?

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Why yes I have. I seem to remember taking some classes in it at college.

            So you support the carbon credit system and the commoditization of air, fresh drinking water, and grass?

            Are you capable of providing meaningful discourse – or are you just going to snipe?

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @APaGttH: Agreed on the carbon credit scam.

          I don’t think you were saying this, but let’s remember that Tesla, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and friends are only utilizing a system that someone else created, although I don’t know who did.

          On a separate note, the subsidy system in the US is totally corrupt; it seems like no entity can survive without gaming the system. It has infiltrated the car industry, farming, education, tax law, road infrastructure, health care, aerospace, oil industry, and plain old welfare. Everybody’s getting a break, yet they feel no relief because they’re paying for someone else’s subsidy.

        • 0 avatar
          naterator

          You’re closer than you think. Sept/Oct 2013 issue of Oil magazine discusses the “financialization” of water. Absolutely terrifying prospect. Yet almost seems inevitable. The demon snakes at Goldman will make a killing off of. Literally and figuratively.

        • 0 avatar
          naterator

          You’re closer than you think. Sept/Oct 2013 issue of Oil magazine discusses the “financialization” of water. Absolutely terrifying prospect. Yet almost seems inevitable. The demon snakes at Goldman will make a killing off of this. Literally and figuratively.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The credit system is an easier way to cap the damage that comes from industry, by allowing the market to set a price for it instead of using regulators, courts and fines to micromanage it.

          It’s easier to cap and trade than it is to enforce and punish. Set the constraints, then let the market work out the details. It’s pretty straightforward.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/403/transcript

      It is kind of depressing how self-destructively foolish people are once indoctrinated with bad ideas. There are chumps protesting outside of Wal-marts; people that will vote for Hillary Clinton, who sat on Wal-mart’s board when they made the sea change to being China’s doorway to US paychecks while her husband paved the way for it in exchange for Chinese campaign financing. They’ll get what they deserve. So will those of us who breath through our noses, unfortunately.

    • 0 avatar
      stevejac

      The UAW didn’t kill that factory the second time (I think they did the first). The second was actually Toyota pulling out since GM was circling the drain at the time and Toyota’s sales were down with everyone else.

      From what I’ve read, this was a spectacular factory because the UAW and mamagment worked together.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The problem for Toyota was that GM was an owner of the facility. The GM bankruptcy put its ownership interest into the hands of the bankruptcy trustee. It was easier for Toyota to punt than it was to haggle with the court over what it was worth.

        Meanwhile, Toyota had built a new plant in Mississippi just in time for the recession; TMC didn’t need to have both NUMMI and the new facility. With all of that, NUMMI was the obvious choice for the chopping block.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Exactly.

          Toyota pre-Great Recession has planned to build the Highlander in Mississippi and 250K Tundras in San Antonio.

          After the Great Recession started and the era of big bailouts, Tundra volume never got close to 250K and the Mississippi factory plan went from building Highlanders, to Prii, to sitting there.

          You’re 100% right on what the trustees did, and Toyota punted. NUMMI was an old facility as it was and the state of Mississippi was getting cranky about the empty factory. Also with LEAN manufacturing San Antonio cost structure was bad for Toyota.

          So they shifted production around so San Antonio could operate at capacity, and moved Corolla production to Mississippi. They walked away from NUMMI due to their excess capacity.

          • 0 avatar
            wmba

            And if I recall correctly, GM left Toyota to pay all the legacy costs for Fremont. GM owned half and paid zero of the shuttering costs. Then, as mentioned above, Toyota basically paid Tesla to take the empty shell of a factory off their hands.

            Seems fair doesn’t it?

            As for the commoditization of air and water etc., I think I agree with you that it’s a bad idea, not in theory but in practice. Wait until Macquarie from Australia start buying out municipal
            water systems from cash-strapped cities like they’ve done around the world. People will be buying Evian to flush toilets after paying their first bill from the new owners. Australian entrepreneurs make North American ones look like sissies.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “GM left Toyota to pay all the legacy costs for Fremont.”

            The environmental remediation costs would have been substantial.

            It was cheaper to “invest” money in Tesla (much of which was paid back to purchase the NUMMI plant) than it would have been to clean up the site. The remediation issues weren’t an issue for Tesla, since its plan was to build cars there; repurposing the site for some other purpose would have cost a fortune.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Sure, go for it. Maybe by the time I retire in 30 years, the Bay Area will resemble Detroit and I’ll be able to pick up some beachfront property in Marin county for $2500/acre.

    Sorry, I’m all out of snark. Modern unions seem like they work well when employees don’t have a perspective on working elsewhere (ie, an entitlement mentality). People who realize that working at Tesla probably beats most other local assembly line work probably won’t organize. And if it’s better elsewhere, commute. Within 100 miles roundtrip, anyway.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Good luck Bob King – you’re going to need it.

  • avatar
    Atum

    If the workers are being treated well, there shouldn’t be a union. Unions ask for lots of money from the companies to make themselves bigger, causing the company’s downfall and the union’s rise. Unions helped in the 1800′s or so, but nowadays, they do nothing but cause trouble.

  • avatar
    stevejac

    I’m the one who really got this discussion going, for better or worse. I will say that Tesla provides decent health insurance as opposed to walmart. That suggests the employees are well kept. The next time I see one of these families I’ll have to ask what it’s like working there.

    I think the best situation for the workers is if they can convince management that they’re going to unionize, get what they need, and then not organize. No dues, no union rules.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    For those who honestly think the UAW is in favor of the worker,please study a little bit of history because the UAW is dooming the TESLA workers to repeat what happened in the UK and now Australia. To abide the “principle” UK workers were forced to join unions and those unions funded the UK labour party and here, the Australian Labor party. Under both ,thousands upon thousands of workers found that they could not eat that”principle” because they no longer had jobs. Simply because granting pay rise after pay rise without thinking about the one simple matter,being” who actually supplies the extra funds? ” meant that the cost of doing business far outstripped the profits to be made.
    In the UK ,BLMC folded after years of mismanagement and union sabotage, dragging down it’s Australian counterpart . In the USA the UAW control of GM has seen Australia’s GMH run into the ground. Although it claims to be Australia’s own car,it’s sales ranked 19th.the cars being far too expensive and too badly built to be considered a good buy.
    So before condemning the owner of any company because he has a paper value of a billion dollars, think about what will happen when all are earning a huge sum (as in Australia) .
    here it is known as the politics of envy. A study of of the last labor led parliament will see speech fter speech made by the unfortunate leader,Julia Gillard condemning the “rich billionaires ” ,although those same people are actually the only real employers in this country and whose efforts are keeping our debt ridden nation afloat right now. When everyone in the fevered imagination of the UAW bosses ,starts receiving massive wage rises, The cheap food and housing the USA enjoys Will become a thing of the past . As will many advantages you enjoy.
    This has been shown in history dozens of times,where those who perceived they were slaves or were being treated as slaves started to receive more money or food,became complacent and down right lazy,leading to a collapse of their societal structure. But the problem will be that a tiny proportion of the economy will be taking home a nice fat check every pay day while supporting the rest ,who will never have a full time job because their hourly rate cannot be supported by the income of their employer or company structure.
    In support of this,one only needs to look at the UK and Australia’s massive unemployment figures. In both countries it is impossible to employ a person without incurring massive costs and burdensome paper work .

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Preach it – you’re spot-on. Nobody ever got ahead by impoverishing the rich guy.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “In the USA the UAW control of GM has seen Australia’s GMH run into the ground.”

      That has nothing to do with Holden being unable to support its own operations.

      Holden was there because high tariffs and content rules didn’t allow mass importation of vehicles into Australia; if an automaker wanted volume, then they had to build locally.

      But now that the tariffs are being reduced, it’s easier just to offshore production. (In any case, Ford Australia and Holden were being subsidized even when times were relatively good; the lack of scale was a problem from the start.)

      Germany has some of the costliest labor in the world. The Germans can get away with it because they use that labor to build expensive cars that the world will willingly buy at a premium. Not many people are willing to pay big money for a Falcon or Commodore, particularly as large family sedans are falling out of favor.

      • 0 avatar
        silverkris

        Very good points. The production scale issue has always been a problem. The Button Plan of the 1980s was an attempt to rationalize the Australian motor industry by rationalization (cutting down the number of models offered) and scaling up those models to achieve better economies of scale – largely done by getting competiting marques to share models thru badge engineering. That didn’t work out at all as the badge engineered model in all of the cases never sold as well as the original (e.g. Toyota Corolla becomes the Holden Nova).

        Currently, the high value of the AUD also limited the economic viability of exporting locally-made models to other markets as a means to achieve production scale.

  • avatar
    Sweet Fancy Moses

    I’m a unionized engineer working in the Canadian nuclear industry, so I’m not even going to hazard an opinion…
    That said, I take great comfort in being able to visit this site and enjoy the B&B conversations as much as the articles.

    … the comments sections of ALL other sites simply induce rage.

    My honest thanks to all!


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