Pro-Union Tesla Workers Increase Pressure As Factory Ramps Up For Model 3

Tesla workers behind a unionization effort sent a letter yesterday to board members expressing concerns over safety and financial risks as Model 3 production ramps up.

Workers sent the letter to independent board members to hold CEO Elon Musk accountable three days after the first 30 deliveries were handed over to Tesla employees. Prior to the ceremony Friday, Musk told reporters that the company and its employees were poised to go through six months of “production hell” to deliver the Model 3 to buyers in high volumes.

The letter sent yesterday by the Tesla Organizing Workers’ Committee was sent to independent board members, including its two newest, James Murdoch and Linda Johnson Rice. Murdoch and Rice earlier this month had been brought to the board as a compromise by Musk following shareholder pressure to have a more balanced perspective not beholden to Tesla management.

Tesla Organizing Workers’ Committee claims that its communications with management had been ignored, and that the board needed to step in.

Points made in the letter focused on health and safety concerns for workers in the Fremont, Calif., plant. The group would like have access to the company’s safety plan and the ability to give input. They’d also like to be part of company decisions about equipment, worker rotation schedules, and how plant ergonomics are carried out.

“There are no guidelines for what is expected of us, or what defines success,” the letter said, with concern expressed over “a great deal of workforce turnover due to the financial insecurity.”

SEE ALSO: Worker Safety Group Says Tesla Plant Injuries Higher Than Industry Average

A study by Worksafe released in May had similar findings. The study looked at information from 2014 and 2015, with preliminary data from 2016, that found injuries at the Fremont plant to be much higher than the industry average. It was based on filings made with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Some Tesla workers have been reaching out the United Auto Workers to organize a union membership vote, but it’s failed to take root so far. It’s been similar to efforts by UAW organizers to bring in “transplant” factory workers in the south building cars for foreign automakers.

In February, an employee wrote a post in Medium make several allegations over Tesla treating its factory workers poorly. Charge included low pay, excessive mandatory overtime, high turnover, and the danger of workplace injuries.

Tough conditions are expected to increase as Musk pushes forward on the 500,000 units per year target for the Fremont factory starting next year.


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