Just this week, we learned that some Tesla employees at the company's factory in Buffalo, New York, sent a letter to CEO Elon Musk and Tesla executives informing them of efforts to unionize. Now, a complaint filed with the US National Labor Relations Board reports that Tesla has fired dozen of workers at the facility.
The workers are hoping for a voice at Tesla. They also expect an increase in pay, more job security, and less scrutiny over their hours and output. Some fear their time at Tesla could be taking a toll on their health. The employees recently involved Workers United – a group that helped unionize many Starbucks locations – to help with the efforts.
According to a recent report by Electrek, the complaint filed with the labor board claims that several of the people who were recently fired from the Buffalo location were involved with the unionization attempt. Bloomberg shared the recent complaint as follows, via Electrek:
"In a filing with the US National Labor Relations Board, the union Workers United accused Tesla of illegally terminating the employees 'in retaliation for union activity and to discourage union activity.' The union asked the labor board to seek a federal court injunction 'to prevent irreparable destruction of employee rights resulting from Tesla’s unlawful conduct.'"
One organizer for Workers United Jaz Brisack explained that this can be seen as Tesla retaliating against the workers who brought on the unionization efforts. He went on to add that this type of behavior is meant to scare workers at the factory.
Union organizers and employees say that such firings are against the law, though they're also aware that Tesla's decision to fire people amid the unionization attempt could end up working in their favor. Tesla Autopilot employee Sara Costantino shared:
“It’s pretty clear the message they’re sending. They’re trying to scare us. And it’s really I think backfiring on them. It has really opened people’s eyes to the fact that this is why we need a union.”
At this point, concrete and confirmed details are minimal. All we know for sure is that employees alerted Tesla that they were hoping to unionize. We can only assume that the alleged firings actually happened, but the only proof right now is the complaint filed with the US National Labor Relations Board, and there's not yet official information linking the union efforts to the firings.
We'll have to wait and see how the story develops, as well as whether Tesla offers any details about the firings and the reason behind them. This is a developing story.