Elon Musk Slams Union Drive At Tesla Factory

by Caroline O'Donovan on February 24, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk listens as President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Evan Vucci / AP

In a lengthy Thursday night email to Tesla employees, CEO Elon Musk defended his record as an employer, and appealed to workers not to join the United Auto Workers union.

In the message, which was first leaked to Electrek.co, Musk took direct aim at claims made earlier this month in a Medium post by factory worker Jose Moran. Moran alleged that long hours of physical labor once forced six of his eight team members to take medical leave simultaneously. Musk disputed this allegation, claiming a Tesla investigation has proven it to be false. “After looking into this claim, not only was it untrue for this individual’s team, it was untrue for any of the hundreds of teams in the factory,” he wrote.

“The forces arrayed against us are many and incredibly powerful. This is David vs Goliath if David were six inches tall!”

The Tesla CEO also lambasted the efforts of the United Auto Workers union to unionize Tesla employees at the company's Fremont, CA factory, calling the organization's tactics for doing so “disingenuous or outright false.” Musk alleged that the UAW's “true allegiance is to the giant car companies, where the money they take from employees in dues is vastly more than they could ever make from Tesla.”

“The forces arrayed against us are many and incredibly powerful,” Musk wrote. “This is David vs Goliath if David were six inches tall! Only by being smarter, faster and working well as a tightly integrated team do we have any chance of success.”

Moran's post — which was later followed by a press conference and a Facebook video — detailed how low pay, long hours, and difficult working conditions are making life difficult for Tesla employees. Moran argued that unionizing would improve the factory workers' situation.

Musk immediately swung back at Moran, telling Gizmodo that he was a union plant; earlier this week, during a Tesla earnings call, Musk told investors that the unionization “isn't likely to occur.”

Moran denied Musk's claims that he's paid by the UAW to lead unionization efforts. His communications team, Storefront Political, declined comment on Musk's email.

Musk's email includes a point-by-point rebuttal of a number of Moran's claims. Regarding long hours, Musk said overtime has actually decreased by 50% in the last year, and that the average employee worked 43 hours a week. Regarding compensation, he noteds that Tesla factory workers earn equity, and therefore earn “between $70,000 and $100,000 more in total compensation than the employees at other US auto companies.” On issues of safety, Musk said Tesla's incident rate is less than half the industry average, and noted that the goal is to be “as close to zero injuries as possible.”

“There will also be little things that come along like free frozen yogurt stands scattered around the factory.”

In addition to defending Tesla's record as an employer, Musk told workers that he plans to improve life at the Tesla factory, which is currently in the process of switching over its lines for production of the Model 3. For example, when the Model 3 reaches “volume production,” Musk said he'll throw them “a really amazing party.”

“There will also be little things that come along like free frozen yogurt stands scattered around the factory and my personal favorite: a Tesla electric pod car roller coaster (with an optional loop the loop route, of course!) that will allow fast and fun travel throughout our Fremont campus, dipping in and out of the factory and connecting all the parking lots,” Musk wrote. “It’s going to get crazy good.”

Tesla declined comment.

Originally Posted By BuzzFeed - Tech

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