Some Tesla factory workers are accusing the company of
illegally suppressing employees’ attempts to unionize at its Fremont manufacturing plant.
The United Auto Workers, a labour union, and three Tesla employees have each filed separate charges with the National Labour Relations Board claiming the company has coerced employees trying to aid the unionization effort into silence. BuzzFeed News was the first to report on the news Tuesday.
“Tesla believes the ULP allegations are entirely without merit and will be responding as part of the NLRB process,” a Tesla spokesperson wrote in a statement to Business Insider.
News of a Tesla unionization effort went public after employee Jose Moran published a Medium post that alleged difficult work conditions at the Fremont plant. Moran said Fremont workers regularly face “excessive mandatory overtime” and on-site injuries.
The charges filed with the NLRB in late April claim Tesla intimidated three employees “passing out literature regarding their union organising efforts, working conditions, the confidentiality agreement, and their rights under the NLRA,” according to BuzzFeed News.
Tesla has come under fire for its confidentiality agreement, which some workers claim prevent them from organising and discussing their work conditions. Over 50 community groups in California have called on Tesla to revise the confidentiality agreement.
“Our confidentiality agreement has nothing to do with the rights of workers to openly discuss organising efforts — something that is obvious from the document itself and disproved by the fact that a small number of active Tesla employees are currently engaging in this very behaviour without retaliation,” Tesla wrote in its statement.
The NLRB will investigate the claims and could choose to either file for an injunction, withdraw the complaint, or call for a hearing. An injunction would temporarily restrain employees from boycotting or picketing. Tesla has faced six other NLRB charges, which were either withdrawn or dismissed.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the UAW is using “disingenuous or outright false” tactics to lead the unionization effort. Musk has also accused the UAW of paying Moran to agitate for a union. The UAW has denied that claim.
Tesla employees working at the company’s Grohmann Engineering division in Germany are threatening to strike, claiming they have been making 30% below union wages. Tesla has denied that allegation.
Read Tesla’s full statement:
“Tesla is aware of the filing of unfair labour practice (ULP) allegations by the UAW and 3 employees at its Fremont facility (where over 10,000 people work). Each year, roughly 20,000 ULPs are filed with the NLRB and nearly two-thirds are dismissed after the investigation. Additionally, ULPs are often used by unions and their supporters as an organising tactic. Tesla believes the ULP allegations are entirely without merit and will be responding as part of the NLRB process.”
“Tesla is a product and technology company, and like many other companies we ask our employees to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect our proprietary information. Our confidentiality agreement has nothing to do with the rights of workers to openly discuss organising efforts — something that is obvious from the document itself and disproved by the fact that a small number of active Tesla employees are currently engaging in this very behaviour without retaliation.”
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