Tesla fires more than 30 workers after union announcement


Workers at Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York, say workers were fired in response to a union organizing campaign

Tesla workers at Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York, allege that more than 30 workers were laid off on February 14 in response to the announcement of a union organizing drive at the 1,000-worker facility.

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Tesla boss Elon Musk has fought union movements in the past. The campaign, Tesla Workers United, is a member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Workers United and has filed an injunction with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to stop the layoffs.

Workers say they are trying to unionize to respond to the need for better wages and job security, as well as productivity pressures, including monitoring workers’ tasks and monitoring keystrokes that prevent some employees from taking bathroom breaks .

A Tesla employee and organizing committee member, Arian Berek, who has since been fired, said in a press release: “I feel overwhelmed, I got Covid and I was out of the office, then I had to take a bereavement leave. I returned to work, was told I was exceeding expectations, and then Wednesday came. I firmly believe this is retaliation for the committee’s announcement and is shameful.”

Sara Costantino, a current Tesla employee and member of the organizing committee, added: “We are furious. That won’t slow us down. That won’t stop us. They want us to be scared, but I think they just launched a rush. We can do this. But I think we’ll make it.”

The workers also cited the announcement of a new policy that prohibits employees from recording work meetings without the permission of all participants, which they say undermines federal labor law and New York State’s one-party consent statute on recording conversations.

If successful, the merger would be a first for Tesla. Workers tried to organize a union at the Fremont, California manufacturing plant with the United Auto Workers in 2017 before several employees involved in the union campaign were also fired.

The NLRB ordered the reinstatement of a fired worker from that campaign, Richard Ortiz, in 2021, and Tesla also faced other allegations of firing workers in retaliation for organizing efforts at the company’s solar plant in Buffalo, New York .

“Unification will further accelerate the global sustainable energy transition because it will give us a voice in our workplace and in the goals we are setting,” said a letter to management announcing the union campaign .

Tesla has not commented on the layoffs and dissolved its US media relations team in 2020.


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