Investor's Corner

Elon Musk discusses Tesla workers’ unions, UAW in latest tweetstorm

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently discussed the idea of unionization among Tesla’s factory workers.

In a series of tweets this past weekend, Musk explained that Tesla workers are free to form a union anytime. Musk added that he has no power to stop employees from forming a union, considering that California is a pro-union state. Musk, however, clarified that so far, Tesla’s employees “just don’t want to,” considering that the company already offers healthcare and stock options. 

Musk also clarified allegations which suggested that Tesla let go of employees who were attempting to unionize. According to Musk, only one known union supporter was terminated by the company, and it was due to the former worker’s behavior towards other employees.

Just recently, it was revealed that the United Auto Workers (UAW) has been engaging in a corporate campaign against the electric car maker. In a recent filing with the Labor Department, the UAW revealed that it spent $422,000 in 2017 on items and services related to its Tesla campaign. Among these are video productions, ads, campaign flyers, and t-shirts. The UAW filing further revealed that it spent more than $130,000 on hotel accommodations near Tesla’s Fremont, CA plant alone, on top of a $52,200 rent for “additional space” in Fremont.

In a statement to Fox Business, Vinnie Vernuccio, a senior fellow at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, stated that the UAW’s efforts against the Elon Musk-led company is evident in the investment that it has placed in its Tesla campaign so far.

“The UAW is clearly doing what’s known as a corporate campaign against Tesla. You see that by the organizing drives out West, but you also see that by their attempts to harm Tesla’s business model out East,” he said.

The UAW has increased its efforts against Tesla since the electric car maker started working towards the mass-production of its Model 3 compact sedan. Back in 2016, UAW president Dennis Williams stated that the organization has widely considered Tesla as a startup company. Once the electric car and energy company announced its plans of producing 500,000 vehicles per year, however, Williams noted that Tesla’s size would put it just behind Volkswagen and ahead of BMW and Mercedes-Benz. With such a production output, according to the UAW, it would be in the best interest of the the company’s workers to have a union.

Tesla and the UAW have not seen eye-to-eye so far. Just last year, Tesla was accused of firing employees that supported unionization. A couple of pro-union Tesla workers at the Fremont factory also alleged unsafe work practices right before the Model 3 production ramp. Earlier this year, a report on Tesla’s alleged misreporting of workplace injuries by Reveal magazine also prompted a fiery response from the electric car company. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership has so far been on a decline over the past few decades, especially in the private sector. Back in 1983, union membership was at 20.1%, a stark difference from the 10.7% overall membership in 2017.

Elon Musk discusses Tesla workers’ unions, UAW in latest tweetstorm

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