Tesla Employees Notified Company of Their Intent to Unionize, and Many Were Fired Shortly After UPDATED

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Unlike many auto manufacturing jobs in America, Tesla’s employees are not unionized.  That could soon change, but not without some drama first. A group of Autopilot analysts in Buffalo, New York, recently notified CEO Elon Musk of their intent to organize, but the company responded by firing dozens of people, including many that were involved in the unionizing effort.

The terminations happened one day after the employees announced their intentions, and the union is calling foul. Workers United said Tesla illegally fired the workers “in retaliation for union activity and do discourage union activity.” 

The unionizing effort has several goals, including a more prominent role in the decision-making process at the plant and a reduction in the company’s monitoring processes. Employees’ time is tracked per task, and Tesla monitors their computer keystrokes, which the group says creates pressure that is harmful to their health. Some avoid taking bathroom breaks due to the granular time-tracking methods.

Retaliation against employees for unionizing is illegal under federal law, but they’ll have to prove the terminations were directly related to the union. Tesla cut hundreds of similar positions in California last year, so there’s a chance the two things are unrelated. The National Labor Relations Board’s regional office will investigate, and if there’s merit to the claims, the company can settle, or the case can go before a judge.

UPDATED: Tesla has laid out a response on its blog.

[Image: Michael Vi via Shutterstock]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

More by Chris Teague

Join the conversation
11 of 95 comments
  • Doc423 Doc423 on Feb 17, 2023

    Good for Tesla, the hell with Unions!!

  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Feb 17, 2023

    Ironic, the USA worker had a much better standard of living when unions were more common.

    • See 3 previous
    • Mopar4wd Mopar4wd on Feb 20, 2023

      There does seem to be some connection there thou. Basically, the less unionized an industry becomes the more the front-line employees' pay seems to fall in relation to management. So we kind of have this upper 20% of income earners who do really well and the rest are stuck or getting worse. It's not just Unions some of the anti inflation measures haven't done workers any favors, but I don't think there is much denying that unions had something to do with higher wages.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Feb 17, 2023

    The writers seem to like to write about Elon Musk and Tesla. Next article Elon's musk an article with a lot of scents.

    • EBFlex EBFlex on Feb 18, 2023

      You complain no matter what is written.

  • EBFlex EBFlex on Feb 19, 2023

    A huge Tesla thread and only one, irrelevant post from VoGhost/Che Vette.

    Rather cowardly behavior