Tesla workers at a factory in New York are launching a campaign to organize a union in New York. In a letter to management Tuesday, the Tesla Workers United organizing committee said that the employees are seeking a voice on the job at the plant in Buffalo and want to “build an even more collaborative environment that will strengthen the company.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken a hard line against organized labor, despite an invitation to the United Auto Workers union to hold an organizing vote at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California. In 2021 Tesla was ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to make Musk delete a 2018 tweet in which it said that he unlawfully threatened employees with loss of stock options if they chose to be represented by the UAW.
The tweet had said: “Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues and give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets healthcare.”
In August 2022 the National Labor Relations Board reversed a Trump-era decision by finding that Tesla can’t stop factory employees from wearing clothing with union insignia while on the job. It ordered Tesla to stop enforcing an “overly broad” uniform policy that effectively stops production workers at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory from wearing black shirts with the United Auto Workers union’s logo.
Tesla labor organizers wrote Tuesday that they are seeking a union as innovative as the electric car company. “We believe that by having a union at Tesla, we will further the mission of sustainability and foster a progressive environment for us all,” the letter said.
It went on to say, in a story first reported by Bloomberg, that the union would further Tesla’s principles and objectives, including by helping to serve as the conscience of the organization. If successful, it would be the first union at the electric vehicle maker.
The Tesla plant, which makes solar panels and other renewable energy technology, is not far away from a Starbucks location where workers voted to unionize last year.
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