Construction workers who helped build Tesla's gigafactory in Austin file complaints claiming unpaid wages and fake workplace safety certifications

Construction workers who helped build Tesla's gigafactory in Austin file complaints claiming unpaid wages and fake workplace safety certifications
Construction site of the Tesla Gigafactory in Austin, Texas.Mike Blake/Reuters
  • Construction workers who helped build Tesla's gigafactory in Austin filed multiple workplace complaints on Tuesday.
  • Workers accused their subcontractors of withholding wages and failing to keep workers safe, documents say.

Construction workers who helped build Tesla's sprawling gigafactory in Austin, Texas filed multiple complaints to the US Department of Labor on Tuesday, alleging multiple labor violations they said they faced on the job.

The construction workers accused their subcontractors — those who employed and paid the workers — of withholding wages from some workers, according to a complaint sent by an attorney at the Workers Defense Project, the nonprofit that's representing the construction workers.

The letter redacted the names of the subcontractors for confidentially purposes in light of a potential investigation.

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Some workers claimed that they were not paid a time-and-a-half overtime rate for working more than 40 hours a week. They also alleged that they were not compensated the double pay bonus they said they were promised for the extra days they spent working over Thanksgiving weekend in 2021.

Victor, a construction worker who performed carpentry work at the plant and whose name was redacted in his complaint, filed a separate complaint on Tuesday claiming that an undisclosed subcontractor sent him fabricated OSHA certificates without providing any workplace safety trainings. The Department of Labor requires construction industry employers to comply with OSHA standards to prevent their employees from potential injury.


Discussing the complaint, Victor told The Guardian that he and his team didn't have basic safety information, and feared for his safety every day.

Victor said he and his team experienced working conditions including working on a roof with no light to laboring on top of a turbine without face masks to deter the blowing smoke.

He said they were even expected to continue production on a floor filled loose wires and cords in the water after the factory flooded.

Following these incidents, he told The Guardian he remembered telling his wife that "I'm going to die in this factory."

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication.


Tesla opened the gigafactory in Texas in April, the manufacturer's fourth factory in the US, to ramp up production of its electric vehicles, including its long-delayed Cybertruck.

Even so, this isn't the first time that Tesla has faced complaints about its working conditions.

An investigation published earlier this year by Insider's Grace Kay and Áine Cain revealed that Tesla faced 46 lawsuits over the last 5 years from current and former Tesla workers alleging they were targeted over their race and gender. In the vast majority of the lawsuits, the carmaker has fought back and pushed for private arbitration.

Last year, Tesla paid $137 million in damages to a Black former Tesla employee after reporting that he was faced with racially-charged slurs such as the N-word on a daily basis.

In 2020, Insider reported that Tesla failed to disclose dozens of factory injuries to regulators in its safety reports to the state.


And in 2018, Tesla factory employees reportedly expressed concerns over worker safety, injury recording, and medical care at a factory in Fremont, California, according to an investigation led by Reveal.

The construction workers are seeking to recover their lost wages, according to the complaints.