Tesla fires more than 30 workers after union drive announcement | Tesla


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

The Tesla chief executive, Elon Musk, has fought union drives in the past. The campaign, Tesla Workers United, is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) affiliate Workers United and has filed an injunction with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking to halt the firings.

The workers say they’re seeking to unionize in response to the need for better wages and job security, and productivity pressures, including the surveillance of workers’ tasks and the monitoring of keystrokes, that deter some employees from taking bathroom breaks.

A now-fired Tesla employee and organizing committee member, Arian Berek, stated in a press release: “I feel blindsided, I got Covid and 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 along. I strongly feel this is in retaliation to the committee announcement and it’s shameful.”

Sara Costantino, a current Tesla employee and organizing committee member, added: “We’re angry. This won’t slow us down. This won’t stop us. They want us to be scared, but I think they just started a stampede. We can do this. But I believe we will do this.”

Workers also cited the announcement of a new policy prohibiting employees from recording workplace meetings without all participants’ permission, which they say undermines federal labor law and the state of New York’s one-party consent law on recording conversations.

The union, if successful, would be a first at Tesla. Workers attempted to organize a union at the Fremont, California, production plant in 2017 with the United Auto Workers before several employees involved in the union campaign were also terminated.

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

“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,” said a letter to management announcing the union campaign.

Tesla has not commented in response to the firings and disbanded its US media relations team in 2020.