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Tesla Lashes Out Against Anti-Safety Factory Claims Led By UAW Campaigns

3 months ago by Steven Loveday 26

Tesla

Tesla’s Fremont factory

As the United Auto Workers (UAW) push to unionize Tesla, the organization has moved forward with a campaign to ruffle up media agencies, and disseminate information via social media to raise concerns about safety at Tesla’s Fremont factory.

The UAW has gone so far as to get information on Facebook and Twitter, and to push reporters to cover stories regarding the safety at Tesla. Though Tesla has fewer incidents than the industry average, and is showing that it’s doing everything it can in terms of safety, the UAW hopes that shedding light on a few issues will aid in their attempt to unionize the Silicon Valley electric automaker.

Tesla

Tesla employee, Jose Moran, drafted a letter and produced a video complaining of workplace concerns at Tesla’s Fremont factory. This was one of very few publicized incidents that marked the beginning of the UAW’s accelerated efforts to unionize Tesla.

Are there incidents and concerns at Tesla? Of course there are. Just like any other company, issues come to light from time to time, and Tesla has made it clear that they have been addressed. Musk personally addressed the issues a few months ago in a leaked email to Tesla employess. Now the company has taken it a step with its recent press release.

Tesla is well aware that while there are media agencies that will see past the union’s ploys, and not take the bait, there are others that will publish inaccurate and defaming stories without taking the time to seek the truth. For this reason, Tesla is trying to curb such actions ahead of time. The electric automaker points out details as to exactly how it’s continually improving safety at the factory in Fremont.

The automaker is even honest to admit that it’s total recordable incident rate (TRIR) has risen as of late. The number is now at 4.6, up from the 3.3 that was previously reported. At 3.3, Tesla’s TRIR was less than half that of the industry average. Still today, the company’s TRIR is 32 percent better than the industry average of 6.7.

Tesla ends its note by lashing out at the UAW. The press release states that at Tesla, they care too much about their team to go backwards, and accuses the UAW and the rest of the industry of doing just that. The rest of the industry is 32 percent worse than Tesla. The electric automaker will only strive to better its safety in every way possible.

Read the Tesla blog post in its entirety below:

Creating the Safest Car Factory in the World

Earlier this year, the United Automobile Workers (UAW) announced it was attempting to organize workers in Tesla’s Fremont factory. The latest phase of their campaign involves a concerted and professional media push intended to raise questions about safety at Tesla.

We have received calls from multiple journalists at different publications, all around the same time, with similar allegations from seemingly similar sources about safety in the Tesla factory. Safety is an issue the UAW frequently raises in campaigns it runs against companies, and a topic its organizers have been promoting on social media about Tesla.

Some of the publications who have contacted us have rejected covering this “story” because they understand it is a misleading narrative based on anecdotes, not facts. However, there will likely be a few publications that choose to publish stories regardless, so we want to make sure the public also has the facts. Watch for these articles to downplay or ignore our actual 2017 safety data and to instead focus on a small number of complaints and anecdotes that are not representative of what is actually occurring in our factory of over 10,000 workers.

First, some context is important. The difficulty of starting a successful U.S. car company cannot be overstated, as evidenced by the fact that Ford is the only other U.S. car company to have never gone bankrupt. We are attempting to break this trend in order to fulfill our mission of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

We are building entirely new vehicles from the ground up, using entirely new technology, production, and manufacturing methods, and ramping them at high volume. Getting this right is extremely difficult, and we deeply appreciate the hard work that all our employees do to help us achieve what most regard as impossible. While we still have a long way to go, in less than 15 years, we have become California’s largest manufacturing employer, creating more than 10,000 high-quality production jobs in the Bay Area, many of which had previously disappeared with the closure of NUMMI under the stewardship of the UAW.

As we work to achieve our mission, nothing is more important to us than protecting the health and safety of our employees. As we look at our safety record in prior years, we realize that we have not been perfect. No car factory is perfect, but particularly given that Model S and X were the first cars we built at more than tiny volumes, we fully acknowledge that they were not designed for ease of manufacturing – far from it. As would be expected, we have since learned many lessons, including how to improve the production process for the well-being of our colleagues.

Here are just some of the improvements that we have made:

  • Historically, depending on production needs, some Tesla employees have worked significant amounts of overtime because it was necessary for the company to survive. However, working overtime can be challenging for employees and their families. Last year, we added a third shift to reduce the overtime burden on each team member and to improve safety. We did this because our employees asked for it, and because it was the right thing to do.
  • As a result of this change, the average amount of hours worked by production team members has dropped to about 42 hours per week, and the level of overtime decreased by more than 60%. We hired our first dedicated Ergonomist in 2013, and in 2015 established an Ergonomics Team exclusively focused on improving health and safety and reducing ergonomic risk for current and future production.
  • In addition to improving the process of building Model S and X, Model 3 has been designed specifically with ergonomics in mind. Our ergonomics team has worked hand-in-hand with our engineers on the design process. As just one example, we created simulations that showed us where reaching or bending by employees was most likely to occur, which in turn allowed us to redesign the equipment and the car to eliminate these issues as much as possible.
  • Each department now has a Safety Team that meets regularly to increase safety awareness and recommend improvements, many of which have already been implemented.

We are continuing to establish health and safety management procedures to scale with our operational growth.

The third shift, ergonomic improvements and increased safety awareness have collectively led to a 52% reduction in lost time incidents and a 30% reduction in recordable incidents from the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2017. In addition, through the end of Q1 2017, the factory’s total recordable incident rate (TRIR), the leading metric for workplace safety, is 4.6, which is 32% better than the industry average of 6.7. This data shows that there has been a dramatic improvement in employee safety, we are now significantly better than industry-average, and we continue to improve each day. A few anecdotes in a factory of over 10,000 people can always be given, but these are the facts.

Tesla’s safety record is much better than industry average, but it is not enough. Our goal is to have as close to zero injuries as humanly possible and to become the safest factory in the auto industry. We will get there by continuing to ask our employees to raise safety concerns and to keep proposing ideas that make things even better.

The alternative is to stop improving and to instead do what the rest of the industry, including the UAW, has always done. But being industry average would make our safety 32% worse. We care too much about our team to go backwards.

Source: Tesla

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26 responses to "Tesla Lashes Out Against Anti-Safety Factory Claims Led By UAW Campaigns"

  1. Former Tesla employee says:

    Knowing what a total recordable incident rate is very important. If you do the math backwards you can actually calculate how many people in their factory were sent to a doctor for medical care resulting from a work related injury.

    If they have 6000 people who work in Fremont, and they each work 42 hours a week, Tesla is responsible for injuring 290 people.

    Be careful, TRIR stats are very misleading. Especially because they are calculating a yearly statistic only using 5 months of data. Most likely by the end of they year at this rate their TRIR will be about 11.5.

    1. Rightofthepeople says:

      What you state about TRIR being low b/c of 5 months of data is false. It’s the RATE at which incidents occur based on the number of hours worked YTD. So yes they will continue to experience incidents, but they will also continue to work more hours through the year.

      I can only assume you made this mistake b/c you are ignorant to the facts. That or you are a part of the UAW misinformation campaign.

      1. Mark.ca says:

        Look at his user name and then you will know the answer…of course he twisted the info in his favor.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Former Tesla employee”

      More likely “Shill for UAW”.

      Too bad he got the first comment here.

      Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.

    3. Waiting on 3 says:

      Why doesn’t Tesla offer the incident rate for 2016? It’s odd they are comparing their 2017 data to 2015 data. Compare apple to apples. Unless the 2015 or 2016 isn’t as rosey.

  2. Mister G says:

    There will come a day when only engineers, coders, and security guards will be employed at Tesla factories, everything will be produced by robots that don’t need breaks, vacations, or unions LOL

  3. CLIVE says:

    Do you know the way to San Jose la la la la la la.

  4. Kdawg says:

    “In addition to improving the process of building Model S and X, Model 3 has been designed specifically with ergonomics in mind. Our ergonomics team has worked hand-in-hand with our engineers on the design process. As just one example, we created simulations that showed us where reaching or bending by employees was most likely to occur, which in turn allowed us to redesign the equipment and the car to eliminate these issues as much as possible.
    Each department now has a Safety Team that meets regularly to increase safety awareness and recommend improvements, many of which have already been implemented.”
    ————

    This is standard operating procedure, nothing new here. I guess it’s good to know that they figured out this was needed.

  5. Acevolt says:

    Why doesn’t the union go after Honda, Toyota, BMW and Mercedes? They all have factories in the US and employe more people than Tesla?

    1. TomArt says:

      Who says they haven’t? If they haven’t, it’s probably because many of those factories are in the brainwashed Deep South, who ain’t got no need for no stinkin’ unions – Alabama, Mississippi, Carolinas, Tennessee, etc. The last 40 years of right-wing anti-labor propaganda has really taken hold in that part of the country, so I sincerely doubt that any organization efforts would be well-received among the labor force.

      1. Tom says:

        Looks like it took hold in union heavy Ohio too where Subaru, Toyota, and Honda make vehicles.
        Notice the complete absence of ‘foreign’ automakers on this list regardless of plant location.
        https://uaw.org/solidarity-magazine/2017-uaw-built-vehicles-list/

        The workers just don’t want the UAW as it is useless and obsolete.

  6. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

    Meanwhile, Musk’s other company, SpaceX, just settled a class-action lawsuit involving 4,100 SpaceX employees who say the company refused to allow them to take legally mandated breaks during the workday, as a consequence of how the company structured its shift patterns. SpaceX paid out about $4 million dollars in the settlement.

    California law requires rest periods for employees every four hours, along with breaks for meals. SpaceX’s shifts were designed such that workers couldn’t take these breaks, but were also not paid more for working these hours instead of resting.

    https://www.inverse.com/article/31478-spacex-settles-underpaid-workers-lawsuit-for-4-million

    1. TomArt says:

      That really stinks. Good for the employees for standing up! Unionization would prevent that kind of crap happening to begin with.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      This is an example of why small unions are a good thing. Workers at individual companies do need the power of collective bargaining.

      It’s only when unions become so large that they start neglecting, or even becoming parasites on, the very workers they’re supposed to be protecting — overly large unions like the UAW — that they become a destructive force.

      1. Windbourne says:

        bingo.
        And the fact is, that Musk has already shown that he does not mind unions, but objects to the corrupt UAW, etc.

        Those unions do not have the best interest of employee,employer, and business at heart.

  7. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    Unions are a Cancer that will eventually kill the host.

    1. Spider-Dan says:

      We must protect executive pay at all costs!

      1. TomArt says:

        Thanks for the translation, Spider-Dan!

  8. Warren Hurd says:

    Unions are entirely capable of ruining a vibrant economy. Truthful media is hard to find.

    1. Windbourne says:

      Unions and Businesses, if ran by greedy executives, can destroy economies.

      And so far,so does the GOP.

  9. wavelet says:

    Great that Tesla is improving its safety stats, but I dislike the heavy and misleading spin-doctoring in their PR.

    Haivng multiple shifts is good for large companies, esp. in manufacturing — they make much more efficient use of resources like plant real-estate and machinery.

    However, many studies have shown that shift work is bad for employee health in many respects, and this is due to irregular working/sleep/eating hours.

    Humans evolved over millions of years for day/night circadian activity cycles. Even employees who work the same type of night shifts all the time (e.g., graveyard shift) have adverse health effects.

    http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/shift-work#1
    https://www.ems1.com/health-and-wellness/articles/183960048-Why-shift-work-is-unhealthy-and-dangerous/
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288310.php

    1. TomArt says:

      Yep, and the machine that makes the machine will soon be doing it alone…making shiftwork obsolete…as well as those jobs…

  10. windbourne says:

    Musk has already proven with his german company that he does not have an issue with unions.
    The problem comes in that some unions, have the same veracity and integrity of trump.
    IOW, none.

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