The United Automobile Workers International Union filed charges Wednesday against Tesla for intimidating and harassing pro-union employees after the automaker fired scores of workers earlier this month.
Tesla swept up many pro-union employees during the company’s mass terminations, the labor union wrote in a press statement about the complaint to the National Labor Relations Board. Workers came forward with copies of performance reports allegedly showing no reason for concern.
“I worked hard for this company for five years, sometimes 72 hours a week – and never had any performance-related complaints,” Mike Williams, who was let go for having a ‘negative influence’ on his colleagues, testified in the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) filing.
Williams was also one of a handful of employees who frequently wore buttons expressing support for unionizing Tesla’s California factory.
“I did, however, wear a union shirt. And I had union stickers on my water bottle,” Williams said. “And I believed that a union would make us safer, and would make the company more organized and more efficient. I hate to think that I was targeted because of it. And it’s not just me. Hundreds of other people were let go with no warning.”
One of Williams’ colleagues, Richard Ortiz, an active union advocate who filed charges against the company’s now controversial confidentiality agreement, was fired for violating the confidentiality policy.
“I was fired for trying to better the lives of my co-workers,” Ortiz said. “I always felt this was a worthy fight. I knew it wouldn’t make me popular with management, and I knew there was risk – but people are getting hurt.”
He added: “I do not believe – not for a second – that I was fired for cause.”
Unions like the UAW are constantly making unfair work practices claims against Tesla, a spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday, implying the complaints are without merit.
“Performance reviews result in promotions and occasionally in employee departures. No one at Tesla has ever or will ever have any action taken against them based on their feelings on unionization,” she said. She was referring to a performance review Tesla conducted prior to cutting between 400 and 700 sales and manufacturing jobs earlier this month.
The firings come shortly it was reported that Tesla managed to build a mere 260 Model 3s between July and September, a number well below the 1,500 Tesla promised before the end of the fourth quarter. Total orders for the supposedly wallet-friendly vehicle tumbled to 455,000 from a high of 518,000.
Production on the highly touted vehicle was expected to expand from 100 cars in August to 1,500 in September, and plateau to 20,000 per month in December. CEO Elon Musk promised to eventually produce 20,000 cars per month.
Musk accused production assistant Jose Moran earlier this year of being a union stooge paid to “agitate for a union” after Moran wrote an editorial criticizing the Fremont, Calif., factory’s working conditions. UAW later refuted Musk’s claims, with officials telling reporters that Moran “is not and has not been paid by the UAW.”
Tesla has since agreed to increase worker pay at the company’s Tesla Grohmann Automation factory in Germany by 30 percent – the company made the move to guarantee staff at the facility a “fair and competitive” salary.
The new pay structure will include raises for apprentices, Tesla confirmed in a statement at the time, without mentioning the percentage of the increase. The company is depending on Grohmann Engineering to help ratchet up production on 500,000 vehicles by 2018.
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