By on August 17, 2015

flyer1Following a similar effort last month at Tesla’s headquarters, Carpenters’ Local 713 of Hayward, CA, set up a protest on Friday outside  the EV maker’s showroom in nearby San Jose, saying that the automaker’s policies “hurts workers, hurts families, hurts community.”

The protest was not without a bit of theater, including a giant papier-mâché puppet of death. Fliers were handed out saying “Shame on Them” and calling on the company to require “General Contractors and all their sub-contractors pay the Carpenter Area Standard Wages and Benefits on all jobs all the time”.

One assumes this labor dispute has to do with construction that Tesla is doing in California and not about the Gigafactory for making batteries that Tesla is building in Nevada, unless Local 713 is taking up the cause of their union brothers and sisters in the Silver State. The UAW has so far unsuccessfully attempted to organize Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont, CA, formerly the UAW facility operated by GM and Toyota known as NUMMI.


In addition to the giant puppet, the fliers handed out featured a drawing of the grim reaper driving a Volkswagen Thing (with a Tesla badge) with the slogan “Driving the car industry into the future. Sending workers [sic] wages and benefits back to the past.” I think I get the symbolism of Death (you can see a photo of the GPMPOD at the Teslaowner blog), the union wants us to think that the people at Tesla are bad, but why a VW Thing?

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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38 Comments on “Union Protests Tesla Showroom, HQ with the Grim Reaper Driving a VW Thing...”

  • avatar

    It feels to me as if TESLA’s greatest challenge, as American innovators, is coming from our political system and unions.

    Meanwhile, if they took their act to Dubai, China and any other country we call “not free”, they’d soar.

    • 0 avatar

      The way I see it Tesla is providing jobs to a previously shutdown facility giving new opportunities to the area. Although Tesla may not pay/benefit to union standards, I guarantee you its a helluva lot better than no job. Additionally Tesla is not the only company in the area, so they do not have a stranglehold on the market. The beauty of America is that if you do not want to do work for Tesla, you do not have to work for them. If Tesla cannot contract talent, then they will have to change, but it seems like they will find workers for the compensation they are giving.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d like to see TESLA revive Detroit.

      • 0 avatar

        Another interesting question here is, who sets the standard? Conventional wisdom would suggest the local employment market, in this case it seems the employees think they can dictate wages. Funny that. Where were these people when American industry was completely exported in the early 90s which affected *everyone* including trades?

        Oh that’s right:

        Idiots. They allow themselves to be tools of a divide and conquer strategy instead of using political/social clout to raise society’s standards which is essentially what their forebearers did (or at least claimed to do). Society as a whole should bash *their* heads in for being so incredulous.

      • 0 avatar

        @BigTrucks, I dont think it would be a strong investment to go to Detroit because the area isn’t strong for attracting young talent. Although palo alto is significantly more expensive, it a talent attracting area. Same goes for the South as you see more facilities and headquarters slowly being moved there.

    • 0 avatar

      All I can say is a company who relies on subsidies so much and wants more of them can’t really complain about our political system.

  • avatar

    carpenters? like who gives a shat?

    I assume Tesla are using non union labor in their buildings? Err… so what?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If Tesla wanted to “pay the Carpenter Area Standard Wages and Benefits on all jobs all the time”, they would have hired workers from the local union.

    Similarly, one would wonder why the carpenters Tesla has hired are NOT part of the union – their pay and conditions must be awful (~sarc~). Same question applies to Tesla’s assembly workers, and those at the transplants (Chattanooga comes to mind).

  • avatar

    I love fear flyers. It’s an art form worthy of the highest study. Look at the sign systems in use; the color, the font, the aggressive center alignment. Immediately recognizable as people’s propaganda.

  • avatar

    “Sending workers [sic] wages and benefits back to the past.”

    This spelling is correct: “workers” does not need to be a possessive in order to be acceptable. No need for a “sic.”

    However, there is some inappropriate capitalization going on in the flyer. Some people seem to think that capitalizing the wrong words makes some sort of profound point.

    • 0 avatar

      Wait Til You See This Insurance Savings of $300 in Your State.

    • 0 avatar

      How does it make sense if it isn’t a possessive? That’s a serious question. I can’t parse it any other way but if you can show me how it makes sense without a possessive, please do.

      Technically speaking, sic means “thus” and indicates that the writer is repeating the source as written.

      • 0 avatar

        “Physicians Clinics”. Many googles.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a compound noun.

        • 0 avatar

          No, it’s an adjective. A compound noun is a single word made by combining two separate words, such as “dashboard” or “pasteboard”.

          In the flyer, “workers” is used as an adjective to modify “wages”, and so should be spelled “workers\'”.

          Ronnie is right.

          • 0 avatar

            I guess the question is when convention trumps strict grammerism. I’m teetering here, but I wouldn’t ding a student’s paper just for this so long as xe included sufficient mention of helicopters or dinosaurs.

          • 0 avatar

            What Is a Compound Noun

            Most compound nouns contain at least one noun. The other word or words may be an adjective, preposition, or verb. The second word is almost always the main word, with the first word modifying it or adding to its meaning.

            Compound words, a large group of words to which compound nouns belong, are expressed in three ways.

            Closed form – has two words that have melded together to make one word, like: softball, redhead, makeup, and keyboard.
            Hyphenated form examples are: six-pack, five-year-old, and son-in-law.
            Open form – has the words next to each other, like: post office, upper class, and attorney general.

            Sometimes, the hyphen disappears as the word is more widely used, and it becomes a closed word.


            Is there ever going to be even one occasion when one of your “corrections” proves to be correct?

          • 0 avatar

            Wha? I’ve never been in Corrections.

            Oh! The haircut….

  • avatar

    “Hey, youse got a problem. Nuttin’ aroun’ here don’t get done witout it don’t get done by da union.”

    Unions, probably in keeping with their general outdated collection of ideas, think that shouting “SHAME!” at a business that doesn’t want to employ them is some kind of effective tactic.

    It’s practically obsolete in this age of shamelessness, for starters.

    “…hurts, workers, hurts families, hurts communities.”

    Yeah, says the bunch that ran America’s industrial infrastructure into the ground harder than Flight 93.

  • avatar

    I know what I want to be for Halloween.

  • avatar

    The fine print is quite entertaining.

    “Contact the following and tell them to starting driving in the right direction… etc”

    Followed by:

    “We do not seek recognition…”

    I also find it cute that they want things to go in the “right” direction as opposed to maybe a “fair” or “correct” one. I don’t think they’d enjoy things swinging in a right direction.

  • avatar

    It is surprising that Tesla, recipient of much govt largesse, was able to avoid the UAW in a formerly UAW organized facility.

    • 0 avatar

      The government does not require companies to unionize workers. Unionization is a worker decision. If the workers vote to have a union, then they’ll have a union; if they don’t, then they won’t.

      Unionization doesn’t run with the real estate, either.

  • avatar

    As Madam DeFarge said in History of the World Part 1, “Look what have we come to: beggars begging from beggars!”

  • avatar

    I would have a lot more support for them if they all drove Morgans.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I see these clowns all over silicon valley, which is experiencing a construction boom right now. Idiots should be thankful they have a job.

    You also have thugs like Jessie and Al trying to muscle their way into silicon valley, twisting the arms of local CEOs: “that’s a nice company you have there; I’d hate to see anything bad happen to it…I see you don’t employ many of my constituents…”

    • 0 avatar

      If you been to SV lately, then you probably understand the real issue, which is the crazy cost of living.

      I work in SV and live in flyover country. I’m in a financial situation where I can walk in to a Tesla store with a straight face, but I can’t seriously consider moving to SV (or anywhere in The Bay Area) with a family of four.

      If I can’t make it in SV on engineer’s wages, I don’t know how the carpenters and Uber drivers make it – the ones I’ve talked to say they’re living in a house that a family member bought decades ago. And those guys can’t just connect to the VPN and get their work done.

      That’s the real issue behind the anti-tech protests and it’s probably the real issue behind these Union protests, too.

      It could all be solved if the local city councils would allow buildings to be as tall as they need to be — instead of the archaic four story limit it Palo Alto (and the similar limits elsewhere). But acknowledging that SV is not a small town anymore would contradict the deeply held beliefs of local culture, so it won’t happen in the foreseeable future.

      The good news is that this squeeze is causing Silicon Valley’s money and work-culture to spill over in the the rest of the country. That’s good nows for me.

  • avatar

    Must be a campaign going on, They are targeting Apple as well.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    I saw these same protestors at Apple. I was close enough to touch the Grim Reaper, which is about 12 feet high. They were passing out similar flyers depicting the Grim Reaper doing something else. I can’t remember what. Working diligently at a computer, maybe.

    The giant Reaper was accompanied by a large white banner containing 3 or 4 lines of text, the top line of text being Apple’s name. If you looked closely you could see that the top line was printed on a strip stuck to the banner, presumably so they could peel it off and paste on [company name here].

    After a while, Apple security made them leave.

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