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Tesla takes a swipe at UAW after union filed a complaint with U.S. labor board

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against Tesla after the United Auto Workers (UAW) made charges against the company over allegations that they were impeding on attempts to promote a unionization effort at their Fremont factory.

Tesla responded with a scathing attack on UAW called the allegation “baseless” and “meant only to generate headlines.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has publicly pushed back against unionisation efforts – saying that their interests “are not aligned with Tesla’s mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy” and he bets workers will choose Tesla’s stock options over union dues.

But NLRB gave merit to UAW’s allegations that Tesla did more than make those comments and that Tesla managers and security employees tried to stop efforts to distribute union information and made employees sign non-disclosure agreements preventing them to talk about their working conditions.

In January, local California state assembly members reached out to Tesla to ask the same thing.

In his response, Tesla General Counsel Todd Maron stated that the confidentiality agreement is to prevent leaks about Tesla’s products and business, and that it is not about preventing employees from discussing work conditions:

“Note that the Acknowledgement is clearly not intended to prohibit employees from discussing concerns about wages or working condition whether amongst themselves or with third parties.”

NLRB filed (see filing in full below) with the Oakland regional office and they are scheduled to appear before a judge for an hearing on Nov. 14.

Tesla’s official response to the latest effort:

“As we approach Labor Day weekend, there’s a certain irony in just how far the UAW has strayed from the original mission of the American labor movement, which once advocated so nobly for the rights of workers and is the reason we recognize this important holiday. Faced with declining membership, an overwhelming loss at a Nissan plant earlier this month, corruption charges that were recently leveled against union leaders who misused UAW funds, and failure to gain traction with our employees, it’s no surprise the union is feeling pressured to continue its publicity campaign against Tesla. For seven years, the UAW has used every tool in its playbook: misleading and outright false communications, unsolicited and unwelcomed visits to the homes of our employees, attempts to discredit Tesla publicly in the media, and now another tactic that has been used in every union campaign since the beginning of time — baseless ULP filings that are meant only to generate headlines. These allegations, which have been filed by the same contingent of union organizers who have been so outspoken with media, are entirely without merit. We will obviously be responding as part of the NLRB process.”

Here’s the NLRB complaint in full:

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Electrek’s Take

As we previously reported, it’s difficult to evaluate just how serious is the unionization effort at Tesla. If you go by headlines, it seems like a real issue and it comes at a critical moment for the company as it is trying to significantly increase its production capacity at the factory to manufacture Model 3 in large volumes.

But there are now about 10,000 employees working for Tesla in Fremont and after having talked to some of them, it looks like the effort for the unionization is done by an extremely small minority.

Last month, they did a “march” to deliver their letter of demands and I was told that there were only about a dozen employees in the “march”.

A lot of the workers were with UAW from the NUMMI days of the Fremont factory and they now don’t want to live the same experience since the union was partly credited for the plant closing under GM and Toyota.

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