Employees at Tesla's solar panel factory in Buffalo are trying to unionize

TeslaEmployees at Tesla’s solar panel factory in Buffalo are attempting to unionize.

  • Tesla employees at the company’s solar panel factory in Buffalo will hold a union organising drive, the United Steelworkers (USW) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) said on Thursday in a press release.
  • The unionization effort will involve production and maintenance employees.
  • “Ultimately, it’s up to our employees to decide if they want to be unionized. While we will never please everyone outside of Tesla, we have an unwavering commitment to providing a great workplace for our employees,” a Tesla representative said.
  • Some employees at Tesla’s auto plant in Fremont, California, have also attempted to unionize.

Tesla employees at the company’s solar panel factory in Buffalo will hold a union organising drive, the United Steelworkers (USW) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) said on Thursday in a press release.

The unionization effort will involve production and maintenance employees, according to the USW and IBEW, which said Tesla employees contacted them about organising.

The USW said in June 2017 that it was attempting to organise the Buffalo factory.

“Tesla greatly values its employees and the direct relationship it has with them at our Buffalo facility. 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,” a Tesla representative said in a statement to Business Insider.

“Ultimately, it’s up to our employees to decide if they want to be unionized. While we will never please everyone outside of Tesla, we have an unwavering commitment to providing a great workplace for our employees.”


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“I wanted to work at Tesla because I wanted a job in green energy, a job that can change the world,” Rob Walsh, a Tesla employee and member of the factory’s organising committee, said in the press release. “But I also want a fair wage for my work.”

USW had represented workers at the Buffalo factory when it was operated by Republic Steel. Tesla took over the factory, which it operates with Panasonic, in 2016, when it bought the solar panel installation company SolarCity, which had been using the factory before the acquisition. Production at the factory has faced delays, though Tesla says it plans to ramp up production in the first half of 2019.

Some employees at Tesla’s auto plant in Fremont, California, have also attempted to unionize in the midst of reports from Reveal that Tesla has misreported workplace injuries, avoided using safety markings for aesthetic reasons, and failed to give injured employees proper medical treatment.

Tesla has denied that it has misreported workplace injuries and failed to use safety markings for aesthetic reasons. The company did not respond to requests for comment on the allegation that it failed to give injured employees proper medical treatment.

The National Labour Relations Board is investigating claims that Tesla has violated federal labour laws by interfering with union-organising activities, retaliating against employees who supported a union, and using an overly broad confidentiality policy.

Tesla has denied those allegations.

You can read Tesla’s full statement below:

Tesla greatly values its employees and the direct relationship it has with them at our Buffalo facility. 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. 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.

Other factories are shutting down in the US and we still have a long way to go to make Gigafactory 2 financially sustainable. Nevertheless, we continue to do everything we can to keep exceeding our commitments to jobs and business in Buffalo.

Today’s demonstration consisted almost entirely of groups outside of Tesla, not Tesla employees. And ultimately, it’s up to our employees to decide if they want to be unionized. While we will never please everyone outside of Tesla, we have an unwavering commitment to providing a great workplace for our employees. That’s what matters.

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