UAW Looks to Unionize Tesla Motors


The United Auto Workers (UAW) is back at it again.

Back in the NUMMI Days, the UAW Was Present in Fremont

Back in the NUMMI Days, the UAW Was Present in Fremont – That’s Not the Case Today

When Tesla Motors opened its Fremont manufacturing facility, the UAW tried to unionize the workforce.  That didn’t happen, but the UAW is not giving up.

According to SF Gate, the UAW has now set up an organizing committee at Tesla’s Fremont factory and is again attempting to unionize the site.

We personally don’t think Fremont will be unionized, as unions have virtually no power in the Silicon Valley area, but just in case something comes of this, here’s what SF Gate is reporting:

“The United Auto Workers union has expressed interest in organizing Tesla’s plant. UAW President Bob King told an auto industry website that the union had set up an organizing committee at the factory. Union representatives had also met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, King said in August.”

“Wall Street analysts who follow Tesla have long assumed that if the company survived its early years, the UAW would come calling. They say it’s hard to predict how unionization – if it ever happens – would affect Tesla, which is based in Palo Alto.”

“Some note that under King, the UAW has emphasized collaboration with automakers, rather than a confrontational approach. Others say unionization could increase labor expenses at a time when Tesla is developing its first car for middle-class buyers.”

SF Gate reached out to Tesla Motors for comment on the topic of unionization.  As expected, Tesla declined to comment.  “Several employees” at Tesla declined to comment, too.

CEO Elon Musk says Tesla is union neutral, so that’s the automaker’s stance.

Again, we stress that we believe nothing will come of this UAW organizing committee at Tesla, so there’s no need to fret.

Source: SF Gate

Categories: Tesla


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64 Comments on "UAW Looks to Unionize Tesla Motors"

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I guess they want to ruin Tesla like they’ve ruined the rest.


Yeah, of course, it’s the unions who have made all these bad decisions about how to run the Big Three all those years.

And Boeing, after doing all their somersaults to keep their unions weak – end up with airplane parts that don’t match each other because they delegated more and more production to low-skilled, shoddily-set-up plants in anti-union South Carolina.

Unions are far from perfect.

But in manufacturing, the only alternative to unionized work is really a sweatshop-dominated industry. The main things keeping industrial corporations from going sweatshop on American workers (like they happily do overseas) is a. Government regulations if they exist, and b. the threat that if they go too far, they’ll end up unionized.

Based on your premise, Tesla should already be a sweatshop.

Today’s unions are mostly seek money and power, not protecting the workers that they supposedly represent.

In a correct world, competition between employers will exist, and if employers are competing for the best workers, then they will offer working conditions that appeal to them.

That’s a load of crap. Organized labor is a lot of things and guaranteed quality/per cost is not one of them. Its easy to make unproven,overzealous claims…lets see all of your data. As of now,California state-worker regulations are more beneficial to workers than most union regulations,so the importance of organised labor now days is negligible. I have nothing against Private unions that have some of the market and have to compete,but Public unions should be outlawed and with better scrutiny,are probably unconstitutional.

Yeah, and maybe the UAW will get back those “bank days” where they don’t do crap. You can defend the Unions but remember all the crap that was unveiled when GM processed through the BK?

If Tesla goes union, I can see more jobs go overseas and the NUMMI again get exited by a US company. WHEN that happens, you can thank the UAW!

“Unions are far from perfect.”

That’s for sure!!! +1 to that

I doubt their intentions are to “ruin” a company, but they do want more ppl to pay union dues (AKA their salaries).

I wonder what a line worker makes at the Fremont plant, and how the Union is trying to pitch that they could improve the worker’s life by paying them $.



Unions don’t ruin companies. Spineless management do.

Unions have a self-interest in only demanding as much as it can while still keeping a company viable, because if it goes under then the dues go away.

There’s more jobs missing in today’s economy from lack of lower/middle-class purchasing power than there are from unions shutting down companies (which in fact cost very few jobs because someone else gets their business).

If a company cant stand on its own 2 feet without a union then it has no place.

Your right,unions don’t ruin company’s…but they can ruin economy’s. Economic valuation is a matter of translating production efficiency…period. You sound like Obama when he recently said that giving people unemployment helps the economy.With that type of rationalizing…we should All go on unemployment and End this recession…Now!

Unemployment benefits help the economy because these people cannot find work. Every dollar they get is spent in the economy – buying food, gas, Christmas gifts, etc. Until the jobs are available, unemployment benefits are as good for the economy as you can get.

In addition, we need the Federal minimum wage to be raised. It is an even more powerful economic boost. Again, these people are poor, every dollar will be spent in the economy. Many of these people are employed, but because they are paid crap, they qualify for Food Stamps and other welfare programs. When people are properly compensated for their labor, gov’t spending on entitlements goes down because fewer people need those benefits.

And spare me the bull about businesses laying people off, or businesses profits tank, because of a higher minimum wage. Those instances are extremely rare. The increased spending alone boosts the economy because now there are more people that can afford the products and services these very same businesses provide!



Theftonomics 101

@Rick, @Steve, @Benji: Well, gang, enjoy the race to the bottom, since you clearly know better…and thank you so much for taking me with you.

What would ‘unionize’ mean for Tesla as a company? May sound stupid but as a Dutch Guy, I’m not very knowledgeable on the topic of labour unions in the States.

It’s like it is pretty much anywhere else, with perhaps U.S. culture relying more on unions as a free-market solution, than the kind of laws which could eliminate their need. Ying and Yang between how much is owed the people who put captial at risk, verus those who do the work.

A difference about US unions is that they negotiate healthcare benefits, where in Europe, healthcare is typically taken care of by the government. I think the Union healthcare costs is what killed GM. No one expected the costs to rise as much as they did.

I should clarify.. helped kill GM. The recession/lack of sales obviously was the #1 killer.

Not the recession, but the insistence on keeping an antiquated, inferior, gas-guzzling suite of products because it’s easier to do this and to twist the government’s arm so they don’t get pressured to improve.

The recession was just the straw.

Those gas guzzlers are still what bring in the profits today. That’s not what killed GM,

The recession hurt ALL the automakers (no one was buying vehicles), and the credit market dried up. (Ford luckily had already secured credit just before this, even though they did take Government $ as well)

So with no $ coming in, and huge liabilities, Ch11 GSB we go.

I’m glad in the past the UAW help create a middle class in the US, but they got way out of hand. I had friends in the Jobs Banks having pig roasts and playing put-put, even saying it was ridiculous. Add to that too much bureaucracy at GM, and you have a recipe for failure.

More likely they were killed by people who keep perpetuating the fallacy that GM only made gas guzzlers. Fact is, Toyota makes plenty of gas guzzlers too, and has for many years. GM has always made small cars too, and they fixed most of their quality problems by the late 90’s.

@Robster: it means nothing bad. The underhanded US conservatism that is leaching into European waters has had nothing better to do but bust unions for the last 30+ years. Our median incomes have not kept up with inflation since the unions have been in sharp decline. Enjoy what you have over there while it lasts.

@Robster…..based on what I just read in Tom A’s comment….I wouldn’t suggest committing his comments to memory. He clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

The UAW”s membership roles have been plummeting year-over-year. After
GM’s negotiations with the union after the bailout resulted in compromises by the
union such as GM’s ability to hire temporary workers or lower-pay entry-level
salaried workers at it’s U.S. Sonic plant – they later resolved to picket their own
plants during the workday!

As UAW’s workforce declines, they continue to attempt to organize foreign
automaker’s plants already established here in the ‘States. To date, they have
failed to organize even one foreign auto plant on domestic soil. Why? Because
workers surveyed say their companies compensate them fairly and they are
happy with their current benefit packages without the pressure of serving and
paying a union “advocate” which becomes fat and management-heavy, often
lording it over the common worker and requiring more of them.

Labor unions are a very good thing. Just not when they become to large and
powerful. At some point, their pension packages and entitlements become such
a burden on automakers that the company can no longer build competitive
products at competitive prices.

That pretty much sums it up.

If Tesla goes UAW – you can assume it would be the beginning of the end for Tesla.

Good news – It’s highly unlikely to happen.

“To date, they have failed to organize even one foreign auto plant on domestic soil.”

Not true, for example the VW plant in Tenn. is unionized. There may be others.

I think the biggest blow to the UAW is Michigan becoming a “right to work” state. Michigan is the UAW’s backyard.

Found an article about it.

Interesting tidbits:
“For VW, though, working with unions is the norm and what the company is comfortable with. The company has about 100 plants worldwide, and all of them except for the Chattanooga factory and the company’s six joint-venture plants in China have such a council.”

“When VW opened its plant in 2011 it set a record for low wages among auto workers, paying its entire production workforce the lowest starting wage for new U.S. autoworkers — $14.50 per hour. That wage, though, is high for hourly work in the Chattanooga area. Volkswagen received over 35,000 applications for its initial hiring batch of 1,500 employees.

VW’s Works Council in Germany, which didn’t like the ultra-low wage in Chattanooga, has told the company that it will not support or consent to an expansion VW would like to do at Chattanooga unless the workers are represented. VW officials say they would like to make a decision about building a new SUV at the plant, or in Mexico, by the end of this year.”

Last year when I decided to go with a full electric car, I had two affordable options available to me in the form of the Nissan leaf and Ford Focus Electric, and they both have similar specs and the Leaf looks ugly, but the Focus lacked trunk space, also both got similar lease rates from their respective dealerships. So finally when I made my decision I went with the Ford Focus Electric, because of the fact that it was made in the unionized Michigan assembly. Also, Nissan has famously made news as fighting workers rights by resisting and hindering and union attempts at their factories even though it’s the “Right to Work” laws that some how allow them to do this. I really do support the union movement because it gives a voice to individuals that would otherwise would be fearful of their bosses, and if Tesla supports this freedom and allows this unionization process to go through than my respect will go up exponentially up for them, in fact when my lease is up I might even switch from Ford, which the Electric Focus I love by the way, to Tesla, hopefully the model E is out by than… Read more »

I agree completely. I didn’t realize Nissan was so anti-union, puts a damper on the Leaf.

The Americans Unions created the American middle class. If you are middle or working class and anti-union you are just supporting getting ripped off my management and hedge fund owners and managers. The only people that should be anti-union are those 2%ers that believe the middle class is an abomination against G-d and that the American people need to be ground back into the poverty and servitude their ancestors escaped.

Nissan isn’t always anti-union, only in America they are. The Japanese plants have JAW representing them, but in Mississippi when workers want unionize Nissan pulls the “Managers and workers need close communication” card while threatening temporary workers their job and telling the rest that if unions come the plant will close. Recently JAW and a South African union that already represent workers for Nissan met the Mississippi workers and agreed with their grievances. Time for Nissan to give workers here their rights.


FWIW…. I have two jobs. Both doing the same thing. One union. The other non-union. I pay $72 in union dues monthly. For that money I get representation and support in any grievance procedure. Benefit packages are identical. Plus … At the union shop my wages are $7 per hour higher.

The problem with the insolvency of the automakers and Detroit itself can be in large part be blamed on the systemic ( and criminal ) underfunding of pension benefits negotiated in good faith.


Jaymac, why don’t you have a full-time job? Maybe the unions ultimately had something to do with that?

One full time and one part time. Welcome to 21st century capitalism. Practically all my peers are in the same boat.

Don’t forget that NUMMI was, before Tesla got a sweet deal to buy it (with Dianne Feinstein’s help), a UAW organized plant because it was partly owned by GM. UAW is just trying to get back in where they used to be.

Also realize that when Nummi was building Pontiac Vibe / Toyota Matrix, they had top notch quality numbers.

UAW won’t damage Tesla. Economic reality might, though.

Just because they used to be in there and were part of the reason the plant shuttered doesn’t mean they need or deserve to be there. They don’t deserve SH|T.

Try telling GM that with the “jobs-bank” and tell me that’s healthy for business!

There’s your economic reality!


The union is only interested in Tesla employees for their dues. I don’t think the UAW are all that worried about how Tesla’s employees are treated.

I think that Tesla’s employees are smart enough to know this.

The unions don’t need to screw this up, too.

Ridicules UAW rules like number of UNION members required on an operating plant/line is what gives Unions a bad reputation. Their rules can help ruin a perfectly profitable company.



If they succeed unionizing Tesla, they have to move overseas.

There are viable arguments on both sides of unionization. Yes, unions did help build the middle class in America. Yes, they do make sure that businesses don’t take unfair advantage of their employees. Also unions have abused their own powers to inflate benefits to unsustainable levels. They have become large and burocratic organizations that have instituted rules that are just as bad for employees as what the business could come up with. Both businesses and unions have unfairly cost employees jobs. That’s where right to work laws come in. If written well, employees can choose the best option for them, and not forced into something they don’t want to do just to have a job.

As far as I can tell, the “inflated” benefits is mostly and old-conservative-wive’s-tale, along with the evil storyline of unions. Convenient that the last bastion of middle class representation has been dwindling while the corporations and shadowy political funds own Congress.

The unions may have helped to “build the middle class” at one time, but they have helped destroy it over the last 30+ years. What has happened to our manufacturing industry in this county? Do you know why?

Notice a prosperity difference between union controlled areas and the likes of Silicon Valley?

In principle unions are a good thing but UAW has become almost synonymous with the decline of the American automobile industry. Hopefully it learned from the past but if not a company that already looks at Apple as a role model knows what to do. I’m sure China would be happy to have Tesla and probably throw a restoration of copyright on the Tesla brand name into the bargain.

Freedom to join or choose not to join a labour union is one of the human rights as laid out by UN. Failing to observe those bring your country nicely in line with countries not worth naming.

Elon is quite right in stating that they are union neutral. If the work force join a union, the game will change.

It is no reason to accept ridiculous behaviour like UK coal and metal workers displayed in the 70’s before Tatcher had to fix it. Unions in Germany and Norway has demonstrated a bit more sense and been cooperative at times to a degree where they are no on the board in large companies in Norway. If they are really on the workers side any longer is another and very interesting question. Readers of Animal Farm by G. Orwell must surely have views on that.

I am at a loss for words…I didn’t realize how much of the conservative drum-beat against unions has taken hold. Like the great propagandists of the Nazi regime said, if you keep repeating a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. More to the point about Tesla employees: too easily people forget that current management won’t always be there. Without a union, you have no power. The next CEO can change things for the worse, and there is nothing the workers will be able to do about it. NOTHING. But people will still work there, no matter how bad it gets, because they need a job. Median income has fallen with the fall of unions. We are increaslingly fooled into accepting any job under any conditions simply because we feel powerless – we are led to believe that we have no choice but to accept sub-par standards. And as long as unemployment remains around 7% and higher, wages and conditions can continue to be driven lower because we assume that there will be other people that will accept anything for the sake of a job…so we accept less and less (employer is stealing labor from employee) while management gets richer… Read more »

+7,500… And more depending on the state.

Well said. The only counterpart to the power of capital is the collective power of labor. Capital owns government (rules / regulations ). No powerful entity relinquishes power voluntarily. Therefore, if you work for wages and not capital gains, hateing on organized labor is simply self hatred.

@Jaymac: Agreed!


Unions don’t seem to know what pay per performance is. The same jerk can sit there and do little to nothing while a hard working individual get’s paid the same. Same training and same times on the job.

You can see that all over departments in the State of CA and most likely others. Management can’t do anything because the union protectionist so tax payers continue to pay the jerk.

Yes, you can thank the Union for it.

Where do you people get this drivel? Oh yeah… Koch Bros’ propaganda arm “Americans for Prosperity”

Not one ounce of truth in your post.

Fox noise. 24/7


You guys sound desperate. Unions are dying, boys. Get over it.

By the way, read up and you’d know this.

And we will die along with them. You read up.

You must be the “Jerk” in the scenario. They never think they’re doing less, always think they do “just as much”.

Then back up your statements with links to actual facts. Otherwise you are just anther parrot dupe peasant, useful idiot for the ruling neofeudalists…

Err… Sorry. “Free market libertarian advocates.” Forgot it’s been rebranded. My bad.


And now… back to the topic :

For me ( and I only speak for myself ) if Tesla becomes a union shop organized by the UAW that will only increase my desire to purchase one of their products. Made in the US is a priority. Collective representation of the workforce is priority #2. I purchased a Vitamix blender this Xmas over several far cheaper foreign made alternatives with this perspective in mind.

Yeah right. I bet most of your appliances and electronics are foreign made.
so show us all a car that’s completely made in the USA?
Ever wonder why even though we manufacture here in the US but still cost more than a company that sells for less here even though they have to pay to ship overseas?

Yup, thank the Union for that!