Tesla Workers Are Attempting to Unionize Again

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
tesla workers are attempting to unionize again

Employees at Tesla’s solar-panel factory in Buffalo, New York, are launching a drive to unionize with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Steelworkers. The campaign aims to unify about 300 production and maintenance employees at the the facility. If it succeeds, it will be the first time the automaker has failed to stop its staff from organizing inside the U.S.

The EV manufacturers’ labor force wants the same thing we all want — more money. Many claim that Tesla offers unfair wages and believe collective bargaining is the only road to higher pay.

According to Bloomberg, the two workers’ unions began hearing from Tesla employees earlier this year. “They want a fair wage that’s reflective of the state investment that the company received,” explained USW organizing coordinator Dave Wasiura.

Despite managing to prevent its American staff from organizing thus far, union talk persists at the company’s vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California. Several former employees have accused Tesla of firing them for being union supporters and then claiming poor performance as the official cause of termination. Others have voiced safety concerns and poor working conditions, saying Tesla ignored the issue.

Elon Musk has a contentious relationship with labor unions. He pulled out every trick in the book to encourage his Californian team to snub the UAW over the past two years. He even went as far as accusing the UAW of engaging in “disingenuous” tactics and fear mongering while doing everything in his power to convince the media and his staff that the factory was a safe and enjoyable place of employment. He promised ice cream and a roller coaster, promised to undertake dangerous tasks himself to ensure their safety, and reminded employees that stock grants mean they make more than most employees at other auto plants.

From Bloomberg:

A Tesla spokesperson said that Tesla pays workers an average of $16.20 an hour and gives them benefits and an equity stake in the company. Tesla also pays performance bonuses, and said that the hourly wages are better than the average production worker makes in the Buffalo region.

“We offer wages and benefits that exceed those of other comparable manufacturing jobs in the region, and we recently increased our base pay even further,” Tesla said in a statement. “In addition, unlike other manufacturers, every single employee is an owner of Tesla, as everyone receives stock upon hire and for good performance, which results in significantly more compensation beyond our already high wages.”

Officially, Musk says he was “neutral” on the workforce organizing, and management’s alleged union-busting practices have proven notoriously difficult to prove. Meanwhile, employees in Buffalo have started gathering outside the factory this week to show the rest of the staff they are serious about launching an effort to unionize.

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2 of 33 comments
  • Jason801 Jason801 on Dec 16, 2018

    If Tesla's compensation isn't competitive, how did the employees end up working for Tesla?

  • JoDa JoDa on Dec 17, 2018

    Only a fool would open a business in New York. Musk had to have seen this coming.