Tesla Motors factory in Fremont, CA.
Now that Tesla's stock has hit record highs, and Model 3 production is set to begin in July, labor organizations are joining forces and upping the pressure to unionize the electric automaker.
Workers at Tesla's Fremont factory have come forward, complaining about the unsafe work environment, monumental production expectations, low wages, and unfair confidentiality policies. This past week, 60 local organizations drafted a letter to CEO Elon Musk pointing out the supposed issues.
The coalition working to push Tesla toward unionization includes local chapters of the UAW, the labor councils of the South Bay AFL-CIO, San Francisco, and Alameda, along with many other environmental and worker advocacy groups. Derecka Mehrens, co-founder of a workers advocacy group named Silicon Valley Rising, explained:
“The workers feel they do not have a mechanism to discuss problems. A union, fundamentally, provides workers a voice.”
Tesla has yet to comment on the acceleration of the situation. However, CEO Elon Musk, and other company spokespeople responded to concerns about its confidentiality agreement back in January. The given explanation was that it is only an attempt to protect trade secrets, and safeguard private information about upcoming product details.
Mehrens, along with many others that collectively drafted the letter, believe that Tesla's confidentiality policy must be relaxed, so that employees feel more free to talk about their work, and concerns at the Fremont factory. The letter reads:
“While we respect the need for Tesla to protect critical information about its products and technology, this agreement fails to acknowledge the protected rights of workers to communicate to each other and to the public about their working conditions, wages, or other critical worker justice issues."
Musk has also attempted to reach out to employees via an email, which was eventually leaked. He provided proof that Tesla's wages and benefit compensation - which factors in stock options - are better than that of competitors. Musk also emphasized Tesla's commitment to safety and fairness, citing statistics showing that the Silicon Valley electric automaker has a very low number of incidents and complaints.
The labor groups are still concerned that Tesla is not focusing on the employees' well being, especially during this busy time. The automaker has a full plate at the moment and with Model 3 production looming, it isn't going to get an easier anytime soon.
A Fremont factory production worker, Michael Catura, told The Mercury News that he supports Tesla and believes in the automaker's goals. Although he is concerned that workers don't have much say, and safety measures are not standardized. He is worried that the pressure in the coming months may be too much to handle. Catura admitted:
“I don’t know how much faster and harder they want us to work.”
Source: The Mercury News