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Tesla is not going to buy GM factory because of union employees, says GM CEO

After GM announced that it would shut down some factories, Elon Musk said that Tesla would consider buying one of them, but now GM CEO Mary Barra says that it will not work out because Tesla doesn’t want GM’s union employees.

Last year, GM announced that they are closing 3 assembly factories in North America.

In an article, we suggested Tesla should buy one of those GM factories after they shut down since it went so well the last time they did it.

In an interview a few weeks later, Musk said that they would consider it again:

“It’s possible that we would be interested if [GM] are going to sell a plant or not use it that we would take it over.”

One of the 3 assembly plants that GM is shutting down is in Ohio and Governor Kasich was pushing for Tesla to buy it.

Now GM CEO Mary Barra confirmed that they had “conversations” with Tesla at an investor conference in New York today via Auto News.

That said, she says that it will not work out because Tesla doesn’t want GM’s union employees:

“Tesla is not interested in our GM work force represented by the UAW, so really, it’s a moot point.”

We asked Tesla if they have a comment on Barra’s statement and we will update if we get an answer.

Update: Tesla said that it had “no comment.”

Back in 2010, Tesla bought NUMMI, a car factory jointly owned by General Motors and Toyota in Fremont California, for just $42 million shortly after it was shut down.

The company gradually built the workforce back, including many former NUMMI workers who were UAW members, and now 8 years later, Tesla Fremont employs more employees than the original factory and it produces electric vehicles at a current rate of over 300,000 units per year.

The move to acquire the existing plant instead of building something from scratch is believed to be an important part of Tesla’s early success.

Though Tesla has had issues with the Union of Auto Workers (UAW) in recent years.

In 2017, The union spent over $400,000 on its “Tesla Campaign”, according to their own filings.

Last year, they also went on the offensive by backing an initiative that could lead to Tesla buyers losing access to California’s EV incentives.

Electrek’s Take

If Tesla says that it has no comment on what Barra said, it leads me to believe that she is correct or it was actually parts of the conversation.

I think it has more to do about Tesla taking over the plant before it shuts down as part of a deal with GM to keep running, but it could be different if Tesla just buys the assets after a shutdown, as they did with NUMMI.

In this case, I think Tesla could still use the factory and even hired many newly former UAW employees without the union actually having a claim on the workforce.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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