Tesla has come under fire from the Workers United union, which has alleged that the electric car giant fired over thirty employees from its Buffalo, New York plant just one day after workers there made public their plans to form a union. The union is urging the US National Labor Relations Board for injunctive relief to prevent “irreparable destruction of employee rights resulting from Tesla's unlawful conduct.”
The union claims that at least one of the workers was part of the 25-employee organizing committee, while several others had taken part in labor discussions. The union alleges that the firings were a retaliatory measure and intended to discourage union activity.
This is not the first time that Tesla has been accused of attempting to discourage union efforts. In 2021, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Tesla and CEO Elon Musk “unlawfully threatened” workers hoping to unionize and ordered the company to rehire a union activist worker it had fired. The NLRB also ruled in August that Tesla's policy that restricts workers from wearing a union insignia is “unlawful.”
Tesla Workers United stated in a statement on Thursday that employees had been notified through an email on Wednesday regarding a new policy which prohibits them from recording any work-related meetings without the consent of all people involved. The group declared that the policy breaches federal labor law and disregards New York's one-party consent law to record conversations.
The group, which is being organized with the help of the Service Employees International Union affiliate Workers United, is also seeking to curb factors that are reportedly harmful to their health, such as monitoring, metrics, and production pressure.
Former Tesla employee and organizing committee member Arian Berek said, “I feel blind sided, 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.”
A request for comment from Tesla went unanswered. The company disbanded its public relations team in 2020. An email sent to the company’s North American press contact bounced back, and other attempts to reach a representative went unanswered.
The National Labor Relations Board has previously found that Tesla violated labour rules during an organizing effort at its car manufacturing plant in California.
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