Tesla reportedly laid off dozens of workers after union announcement, NLRB complaint alleges
- Tesla terminated dozens of employees at a site that had just announced a union campaign, an NLRB complaint alleges.
- Workers United claims Tesla is attempting to "discourage union activity," Bloomberg first reported.
Tesla laid off dozens of staff at its plant in Buffalo, New York after workers announced plans to unionize, the Workers United union said in a complaint that Bloomberg first reported on Thursday.
The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) claiming that Tesla unlawfully terminated some staff "in retaliation for union activity and to discourage union activity," per Bloomberg. The union told the publication that several of the terminated staff had been involved in the union drive.
An NLRB spokesperson confirmed the claim had been filed and the agency's regional office is investigating the issue. Spokespeople for Tesla and Workers United did not respond to a request for comment from Insider ahead of publication.
Employees at Tesla's plant located in Buffalo, New York, emailed Elon Musk on Tuesday to inform him about their campaign to unionize. The workers who were part of the union told Bloomberg they wanted to have better pay, job security, and working conditions. At the time, workers told Bloomberg that the automaker tracked their keystrokes and productivity to the point that some staff were concerned taking bathroom breaks would impact their productivity.
On Wednesday, Tesla sent the workers a message saying the company had updated its policies, including an update to "Protect the confidentiality, integrity and security of all Tesla Business Information," Bloomberg reported.
Tesla is one of the only major automakers in the US that is not represented by a union. In 2017, some Tesla workers sought to unionize with the help of the United Auto Workers Union (UAW), but the initiative was unsuccessful. The carmaker is also one of few automotive companies in Germany that is not unionized. Though, the IG Metall union in Germany has criticized the working conditions in Tesla's Berlin plant.
It's not the first time that Tesla has been accused of attempting to discourage union efforts at one of its facilities. In 2021 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Tesla and Musk "unlawfully threatened" the workers hoping to unionize in 2017 and ordered the company to rehire a union activist worker it had fired. The group said Tesla "interrogated" employees involved in the effort and ordered Musk to delete a tweet it deemed "anti-union." More recently, the NLRB ruled in August that Tesla's policy that restricts workers from wearing a union insignia is "unlawful."
Musk has expressed negative sentiments toward unions in the past. Last year, the billionaire poked fun at the UAW by inviting the union to hold a vote at a Tesla factory and tweeting a video of New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc (NUMMI) workers denouncing the UAW in 2010 at the location that has since become Tesla's Fremont factory.
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