According to a recent article published by Automotive News, a group of Tesla employees in New York is launching a union campaign to get better pay and job security. The workers are also concerned about the major pressure at Tesla, and how it may negatively impact their health. Moreover, they want the company to have rules in place that work against anti-union tactics.
The workers, who have been informally discussing the potential unionization for many months, reportedly sent an email to CEO Elon Musk and Tesla management this week making their plans known. The group of Tesla employees currently work in Buffalo, New York, labeling data for Tesla Autopilot.
Six of the workers shared with Bloomberg that their keystrokes are actively monitored by Tesla to make sure they're on task. Some said they don't even feel comfortable taking a bathroom break, and they feel like robots. A portion of the letter to Tesla's higher-ups reads:
"Unionizing will further accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy because it will give us a voice in our workplace and in the goals we set for ourselves to accomplish."
The Buffalo Tesla workers, who start at $19 per hour, are using Valentine's Day to quickly get the word out about efforts to unionize. They're working with the Service Employees International Union affiliate Workers United, which was integral in recently helping unionize many Starbucks locations across the country.
If the efforts are successful, about 1,000 manufacturing workers at Tesla's Buffalo plant will be organized. In order for the attempt to be successful, a majority of the workers will need to be on board with the plans.
Tesla reportedly put a stop to an internal chat board where the employees were publically discussing their issues with the company. However, the group simply moved its talks to a Discord server. One employee at Tesla's New York location, Sara Costantino, shared:
"I want a voice with my company — we don't really have one. The voice we did have, they took away."
This certainly isn't the first time workers at Tesla have tried to unionize. Efforts were made at the company's Fremont, California, factory in 2017. Not long thereafter, in 2018, plans were announced for a campaign in Buffalo. However, neither went to an official vote.
CEO Elon Musk has said multiple times in the past that he's not against his workers forming a union, as long as it's what they want. However, he's also made it clear that it wouldn't be in their best interest since they currently benefit heavily from stock options, which may no longer be the case if they decide to unionize.