The United Automobile Workers (UAW) union said Friday it was approached by workers at Tesla’s main California assembly plant about ways to unionize the employees.
UAW also dispelled claims made by the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, that Tesla employee Jose Moran “is not and has not been paid by the UAW.” Musk accused Moran of being a union stooge paid to “agitate for a union.”
“Our understanding is that this guy was paid by the UAW to join Tesla and agitate for a union,” the Tesla boss told reporters Thursday through Twitter. “Frankly, I find this attack to be morally outrageous. Tesla is the last car company left in California, because costs are so high.”
Moran, who works as production assistant with the company, claimed in a Medium piece Thursday that the factory’s “machinery is often not ergonomically compatible with our bodies,” and requires “too much twisting and turning and extra physical movement to do jobs that could be simplified if workers’ input were welcomed.”
“The safety and job satisfaction of our employees here at Tesla has always been extremely important to us,” the spokesperson continued. “We have a long history of engaging directly with our employees on the issues that matter to them, and we will continue to do so because it’s the right thing to do.”
Tesla employs more than 5,000 non-union workers at its California-based factory. Moran wrote that the workers are often faced with “excessive mandatory overtime” and earn paltry wages when compared to the national average of $25.58 hourly for most autoworkers in the U.S. He said the astronomical cost of living in California area makes Tesla’s current $21-an-hour wage less than livable for many workers.
Moran also noted that “recently, every worker was required to sign a confidentiality policy that threatens consequences if we exercise our right to speak out about wages and working conditions.”
Tesla refuted Moran’s claims and said it doesn’t prohibit discussion of wages or working conditions, though the company did acknowledge forcing employees to sign a confidentiality policy related to “a rash of unauthorized leaks to the press and social media about product launches, specifications, and improvements — information that is critical to Tesla’s continued growth and success.”
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