As Tesla looks to ramp up production for the rollout of its Model 3, factory workers are asking the company to unionize.
Jose Moran, a person claiming to be an employee at Tesla’s Fremont factory for the last four years, wrote a Medium post stating that factory workers are asking to unionize because of difficult work conditions and long hours.
In the post, Moran says “preventable” injuries happen often because the machinery is not compatible with workers’ bodies. Moran said the extra physical movement required to operate the machinery has led several employees to take medical leave.
Moran also said employees work well over 40 hours to meet production goals, often putting in 60 to 70 hours per week due to “excessive mandatory overtime.” Tesla has had difficulty meeting production deadlines in the past, most notably with the Model X.
Tesla factory employees have reached out to the United Auto Workers to form a union. Moran said Tesla has started to respond to worker concerns by raising workers’ base pay. Tesla workers make anywhere between $17 and $21 an hour, but also face a higher cost of living than most factory workers, Moran said.
A Tesla spokesperson confirmed in a statement that employees are looking to unionize. Tesla’s full statement reads:
“As California’s largest manufacturing employer and a company that has created thousands of quality jobs here in the Bay Area, this is not the first time we have been the target of a professional union organizing effort such as this. The safety and job satisfaction of our employees here at Tesla has always been extremely important to us. We have a long history of engaging directly with our employees on the issues that matter to them, and we will continue to do so because it’s the right thing to do.”
Tesla declined to comment on the allegations regarding workplace injuries and overtime.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk told Gizmodo that there is mandatory overtime on certain occassions if there is a work stoppage, but the frequency of mandatory overtime is decreasing each week. Musk also said “the understanding” is that Moran was paid by the UAW to join Tesla and agitate for a union.
“Frankly, I find this attack to be morally outrageous. Tesla is the last car company left in California, because costs are so high. The UAW killed NUMMI and abandoned the workers at our Fremont plant in 2010. They have no leg to stand on,” Musk told Gizmodo.
On Friday, the UAW said Moran has not been paid to agitate for a union and confirmed that Moran and other employees have approached the UAW about forming a union.
- REUTERS/Joe White/File Photo
Musk has been forthcoming about Tesla’s production challenges in the first half of 2016.
“We were in production hell,” he said during the company’s second-quarter earnings call. “We climbed out of hell in June.”
Musk went so far as to sleep in the Fremont factory to personally inspect vehicles as they came off the line.
Tesla has ambitious production goals going forward. Musk said a year’s worth of Model 3 cars are sold out after the company received roughly 400,000 pre-orders. Tesla will have to contend with Model 3 production in addition to the Model S and Model X.
Deliveries for the Model 3 are expected to begin rolling out at the very end of 2017. Tesla is shutting down its Fremont factory for a week in February to prepare it for Model 3 production.
Musk has set an ambitious target of delivering 500,000 cars annually by 2018 and one million cars by 2020. Tesla maintained its estimate of 50,000 deliveries for the second-half of 2016 during its third-quarter earnings call. That’s at the low-end of its 80-90,000 full-year delivery guidance.