Workers at Tesla’s Buffalo solar tile factory say the company sabotaged their efforts to find new jobs after trying to unionize

  • A union representing Tesla employees in Buffalo, New York, says the company illegally fired employees and sabotaged their efforts to find other jobs.
  • The allegations were made in a National Labour Relations Board complaint filed this week, a copy of which was obtained by Business Insider on Friday.
  • Tesla says the claims are false, and that it will respond as part of the NLRB process.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Some employees at a Tesla factory that produces solar roof tiles in Buffalo, New York, say the company illegally fired them for attempting to unionize.

The claims were made in a charge filed Wednesday by the Pittsburgh office of the United Steelworkers union with the National Labour Relations Board. A partially redacted copy of the complaint was obtained by Business Insider on Friday through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“Since on or about January 18, 2019,” the charge documents read. Tesla, “through its officers, agents and representatives, has intentionally interfered with efforts to seek employment with other employers in retaliation for outspoken union support.”

Roughly 350 employees accuse Tesla of “coercive actions” including illegal surveillance and at least six unlawful layoffs. Both actions could potentially break federal labour law, the complaint says. The fight goes back to December 2018, when employees at the upstate New York plant first began a drive to unionize, as reported by Bloomberg Law at the time.

A USW media representative and its lawyer listed in the complaint did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

A Tesla spokesperson told Business Insider that the complaints filed this week are without merit, and noted that there are thousands of similar complaints filed each year against other automakers.

“Tesla greatly values our employees at our Buffalo facility, and respects their right to organise,” the spokesperson said. “The ULP allegation is without merit and we will be responding as part of the NLRB process.”

In January, shortly after the date mentioned in the NLRB complaint, Tesla laid off more than 3,000 employees across the company – roughly 7% of its total workforce – in an effort to cut costs and return to profitability.

You can read a redacted version of the complaint below, as obtained by Business Insider:

NLRB Tesla complaoint byGraham on Scribd