100 Workers Walk Out Of Tesla Gigafactory Over Labor Dispute

2 years ago by Steven Loveday 41

Tesla Gigafactory

Tesla Gigafactory

Gigafactory

Gigafactory

A union official reported that at least 100 workers walked out of the Reno, Nevada, Tesla Gigfactory Monday over a labor dispute.

It is reported that the dispute dealt with out-of-state labor, but Tesla officials claim that it was over a contractor issue, rather than an issue with the automaker itself.

Tesla officials commented:

“Today’s activity stems from the local Carpenters Union protesting against one of the third-party construction contractors that Tesla is using . . . Their issue is not with how Tesla treats its workers.”

Todd Koch, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada, confirmed:

“Local labor leaders are upset that Tesla contractor Brycon Corp. is bringing in workers from Arizona and New Mexico . . . It’s a slap in the face to Nevada workers to walk through the parking lot at the job site and see all these license plates from Arizona and New Mexico.” 

Prior to this, the much anticipated construction of the $5 billion, 10 million sq. ft. “Gigafactory” has been moving ahead of schedule. Tesla pointed out that the non-union contractor in question is using over 50 percent Nevada employees and over 75 percent of the entire factory workforce are Nevada residents.

The September 2014 deal between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval included as much as $1.25 billion in tax breaks for Nevada residents over 20 years and a promise that half of the gigafactory’s positions would be reserved for Nevada residents.

If Tesla’s information is accurate, the company, as well as its contractors, are living up to what was agreed upon.

Source: Bloomberg

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41 responses to "100 Workers Walk Out Of Tesla Gigafactory Over Labor Dispute"

  1. ModernMarvelFan says:

    Well, the contractor needs to be held accountable for this.

    Tesla is getting incentives from the state of NV and create jobs for NV. The contractor needs to get on with it if it wants future Tesla contracts…

    1. Rebel44 says:

      It depends on jobs needed – some specialists might not be locally available, in which case, it would make sense to get out-of-state people to do needed work.

      On the other hand, if those people can be hired locally, contractor need to be swiftly kicked, for causing issues.

    2. mo says:

      Every contract like this allows a co. to allocate a certain percentage of workers to be out of state vs in state. Also based on extenuating circumstances such a availability, ability for night shifts etc can also force contractors to import workers. This is the problem with Unions they get butthurt and the only thing they know what to do is walk out or do slow down or sick out.

      1. Windbourne says:

        Apparently, more than 1/4 of the workers are from out-of-state and non-union. Few contracts like this allow that much non-union.

        It is very likely that the contractor is trying to save a few bucks by hiring a large number of illegals.

        1. Nix says:

          Tesla’s agreement with the state is 50% Nevada workers, so they are well above what is required in their agreement.

          And not even the leader of the Union is claiming any of the workers are foreign. Koch says the union lobbied state legislators unsuccessfully to require 100% of workers be Nevada residents.

          Koch and the Union lost their effort to get a 100% Nevada worker requirement into the SB 1 bill that authorized Tesla’s tax incentive. Now they are trying to re-legislate what is in SB-1 through the use of strikes.

          This is the continuance of a lobbying fight that the Union lost when the bill was passed, and the Union is refusing to honor the terms of the SB-1 legislation as it was passed.

          It has nothing to do with people not being here in the US legally.

  2. Texas FFE says:

    I guess now we have to add the Nevada carpenters union to the Tesla Villians list.

    1. Windbourne says:

      Why? They are not fighting against Tesla. They are fighting against the contractor that is subbing out to other companies that are likely illegals.

  3. Don H says:

    ” and a promise that half of the gigafactory’s positions would be reserved for Nevada residents. ” Would this mean when the place is fully open and not construction of it?

    1. Will says:

      yes, that also. That was part of the GF deal.

  4. kubel says:

    How is it a slap to the face when there are people coming in from other states? I don’t get it. What, are these Arizonians and New Mexicans doing? (***slight mod edit (staff)***)

    1. Anthony says:

      I know the unions in NV have strict rules about having a NV drivers license to get on the work list (if you have an out of state license, you’re at the bottom of the list behind everyone who has an NV license).

      Nevada has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. When contractors recruit people from other states to come and work in Nevada for jobs Nevadans could otherwise do, just to save a few dollars an hour, it is a slap in the face – you’d rather bring someone from out of state, put them up in a hotel/motel, and let people who actually live here go unemployed.

      1. DavidCary says:

        Presumably if they were locally available?

        Maybe NV residents have a high unemployment rate because they want too much money. It isn’t like this is high cost CA and you are bringing in low cost NV workers. This is low cost NV and you are bringing workers from similar cost states.

        Supply and demand should apply here. If there truly was high supply of labor in NV (in the needed field), then cost would be low. Unless of course an outside disrupting force like a Union is raising local costs……

        1. Steven says:

          Those things would have to be negotiated in the contract.

        2. sven says:

          In NYC construction, it doesn’t matter if you’re a NYS/NYC resident or if you live across the river in NJ. I guess it’s the same union. But I’d replace all of our local construction schmucks in a heartbeat with Nevada construction workers if it were guaranteed that they wouldn’t get drunk at lunchtime or on the job. Autonomous robots would also be a huge improvement.

          This news story about the boozy construction-worker culture was on the local news yesterday, but it’s a story that gets repeated every other year or so on the news, including construction workers working on the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero. It’s nothing new, and nothing ever changes (it might actually be getting worse). Stuff constantly falls from skyscrapers under construction, workers die and get maimed, and innocent bystanders get crushed by falling monster cranes and construction materials. Sigh. [Rant off.]

          http://abc7ny.com/news/investigators-exclusive-construction-workers-caught-drinking-heavily-during-lunch/1224994/

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      It’s a labor dispute involving union workers in the construction industry. The “reason” given for a walk-out may be just an excuse, or it may be a sign that the union leaders have mislead their followers into thinking they can walk all over anyone.

      Unions can be a good thing for workers, in enabling collective bargaining. Unfortunately, as in this case, they are all too often a two-edged sword causing trouble for everyone. That’s especially prevalent in the construction industry.

  5. Texas FFE says:

    California has very strong unions. I’m not sure about Nevada but Texas is a right to work state meaning you don’t have to be in a union to get a job. It makes sense that if the carpenters union thought they had a contract with Tesla only allowing Nevada residents to work at the Gigafactory then the union members would get upset if they saw a lot of out of state plates in the parking lot.

    1. fotomoto says:

      “I’m not sure about Nevada but Texas is a right to work state meaning you don’t have to be in a union to get a job.”

      Yet a manufacturer doesn’t have the right to sell cars directly to the public in Texas but must be in a union (dealership network). Oh the irony.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Wrong analogy. The dealership organizations are like medieval craft guilds. Both are organizations run by and for the benefit of business owners. Contrariwise, unions are run by and for the benefit of workers… or at least they start out that way.

    2. Nick says:

      Right to work == unions are meaningless.

      If you can’t enforce the collection of dues what does it mean to have a union? See also freeloader problem.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        How is forcing everyone to join a union in any way better for workers than banning unions?

        It’s supposed to be a free country. People should be free to join unions or not… as they please. But on the other hand, unions should be under no obligation to intercede for a worker who hasn’t paid his dues, or support him during a strike.

        One of my uncles was an engineer who refused to join the union, despite their strong-arm tactics. He found it prudent to carry a gun in the glove compartment of his car… just in case.

        Big unions can be, and often are, every bit as bad for workers as big business. Small local unions generally are a positive thing. But when unions get too big, their leadership tends to get involved in politics and other “more important things”, and lose sight of the purpose of unions: to protect and advocate for ordinary employees.

        * * * * *

        One reason Tesla is setting up shop in Nevada is that it’s a “right to work” State, meaning that — if my understanding is correct — there are no “closed shops” where workers are prevented from being hired even if they don’t join a union. In other words, no State laws forcing people to join unions they don’t want to join.

        1. Nick says:

          “How is forcing everyone to join a union in any way better for workers than banning unions?”

          False choice, straw man.

          When you form a union at a place of employment (by voting for one), you need to collect dues so you can negotiate and strike.

          If someone doesn’t need to pay dues, but still benefits from the actions of their union, you have a freeloader problem. That’s why mandatory dues are written into basically every union contract.

          Republicans don’t like unions, so the ban such fees thus severely weakening or destroying unions.

          This gives more power to the business owners and less to the workers. Good bye middle class.

          1. TomArt says:

            Exactly.

  6. Jychevyvolt says:

    These Union workers should mind their own business and get back to work. Without the giga factory, there will be no Telsa motors. The model 3 is the turning point in automotive history.

    PS, I’m a fully vested Union member.

    1. Johan says:

      Also full time union member and agree. You don’t just walk out like that. You need to attempt to go through proper channels to see if violations have occurred.

  7. Maybe Local Labor Leaders need to get a bit less emotional, and review the contractual obligations the Company has, and review the employee Talent Pool they would suggest from Nevada to replace the out of state workers?

  8. L Cross says:

    when you read the replies it’s obviously most people did not read nor fully comprehend the points of the article

  9. Mister G says:

    Gas guzzler industry is trying to sabotage the GF.

    1. Anon says:

      It makes me wonder…

    2. Jychevyvolt says:

      That doesn’t even make sense. It’s a turf fight. This thing happens all the time in the construction industry.

  10. Nix says:

    What does the labor contract say?

    If Brycon Corp. was obligated under contract with the union to hire a specific number of Nevada workers, and they violated the contract, then they are in the wrong.

    If the contract doesn’t specify how many Nevada workers Brycon Corp need to hire, or if Brycon Corp met the number of Nevada workers listed in the contract, then the union workers are in the wrong.

    But since Brycon Corp is reported to not be Unionized, there likely is no contract, and thus no violation. This sounds more like a Union trying to throw their weight around (300 workers walked off, with just 60 non-union Brycon Corp workers staying and working).

    Without knowing actual contract details, it is hard to tell who is in the wrong. But this smells like an example of a union trying to use their weight to create a monopoly of all jobs at a worksite. We will have to see how it plays out.

    The numbers already seem overwhelming, with 300 Nevada Union workers walking out, leaving just 60 Brycon Corp workers. So I can’t see where the union can complain about them having around 300 out of 350 workers on the jobsite.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Nix said:

      “Without knowing actual contract details, it is hard to tell who is in the wrong. But this smells like an example of a union trying to use their weight to create a monopoly of all jobs at a worksite.”

      Thanks, Nix! You actually said what I was trying to say, and you said it well.

    2. Windbourne says:

      Here in the west, in many cases like this, that is NOT about a union issue, but about the contractor hiring sub-contractors that are not paying their taxes, etc by simply hiring illegals.
      So, this union is probably taking the PC road and saying that it not union, when in fact, they are objecting to the hiring of large number of illegals.

      1. Nix says:

        Oh god, not the “illegals” paranoia again to justify whatever.

        If they think people are working there that don’t have the legal right to work in the US, the number is 1-866-DHS-2ICE. Trying to justify a strike over something that should be handled through a toll free call would be the depths of stupidity.

  11. Priusmaniac says:

    Is there a connection between Todd Koch and the brothers Charles and David Koch?

  12. GSP says:

    When building the largest factory in the world, it seems like sparsely populated Nevada would not be able to supply all of the workers needed. I expect that bringing in out of state workers is the norm for projects like this.

    What is the beef with people that happen to live on the other side of an arbitrary state border anyway? Are not they as deserving as other workers?

    GSP

  13. Sublime says:

    I say replace them with more workers from New Mexico and Arizona.

  14. Robb Stark says:

    So this is Nevada Nationalism rising on hatred of Arizonians and New Mexicans?

    Seriously WTF?

  15. Red HHR says:

    Carpenters? They are building the Gigafactory from wood?

    1. Murrysville EV says:

      The wood is for heat and energy, since it’s a renewable resource.

  16. Nix says:

    This news story went dead. Anybody know if they are still striking, or if they have returned to work? I’m not seeing any news updates.

  17. MM says:

    Tesla received from the State of Nevada $1.25 BILLION dollars in tax breaks to put it’s factory there and to employ residents of Nevada. Tesla needs honor the agreement and see that the employees working on this Tesla factory are all residents of Nevada. It’s wrong for Tesla to escape responsibility by blaming a “contractor.”