Last week, Tesla Giga New York workers who organized a unionization campaign experienced a roller coaster of emotions. The group was full of hope as they launched their campaign on Tuesday, but on Wednesday and Thursday, the union organizers felt deflated as Tesla issued a round of terminations on the plant’s Autopilot labeling team.
In response to the terminations, the Workers United union filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board accusing Tesla of striking back at unionization efforts by illegally terminating employees. Tesla has denied this, explaining in a blog post that the terminations at Giga New York were part of the company’s regular performance review cycle, which affects all its plants across the globe.
In a statement to The Buffalo News, however, the Tesla union organizers at Giga New York noted that they are not giving up the fight. Alexis Hy, who has been with the company for about a year and a half, noted that the terminations last week just made the group even more determined to unionize the plant.
“We’re doing this for all of us – the employees – and then to see the retaliation and to see so many people get fired, we were all so dejected after that day. But it just makes us want to fight harder for those people and for the rest of us that are still there,” Hy said.
The Tesla Workers United organizing committee noted on Saturday that the agitation among workers at the plant gathered momentum during the November snowstorm. The storm buried parts of New York under several feet of snow, but at the time, the workers noted that Tesla only advised them to use paid time off, sick time, or vacation time if they were unable to report to work. Workers in the Autopilot labeling team were reportedly informed that they could not work from home.
Some Giga New York workers on Saturday noted that they felt like they were being micromanaged “down to the keystroke.” Some workers, including Hy, noted that bathroom breaks were skipped at times just so employees could meet their quotas. Tesla, in its blog post about the matter, denied this, noting that “there is nothing to be gained by delaying bathroom breaks” and that the workers’ claims were “categorically false.”
Tesla has not issued any further comments about Giga New York’s ongoing unionization efforts.
It should be noted that some who support Giga New York’s unionization actually like the company a lot. Lizzie McKimmie, a data annotation specialist, told the publication that she really enjoys working at Tesla. She just finds it stressful that there is no job security and that she has to live paycheck to paycheck. “I do want what is best for my fellow employees. I love this job, and I really want to make it better,” McKimmie said.
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