Elon Musk highlights that Tesla employees make more than GM’s union workers

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wears a Plaid Mode jacket at the company's Model S Plaid Delivery Event on June 10th, 2021. (Credit: Tesla)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that Tesla’s non-unionized employees actually get paid on an hourly basis more than their unionized counterparts from General Motors. Musk’s update was shared as a response to a post about GM CEO Mary Barra on Twitter.

GM CEO Mary Barra has attracted a lot of attention recently due to US President Joe Biden declaring that the executive changed the automotive industry by leading the electric vehicle revolution. GM also stands to gain a lot of advantages in the administration’s proposed revised EV incentives, which heavily favor electric vehicles produced in a union factory.

As per CNBC host Andrew Sorkin in his interview with Barra, however, it appears that Tesla employees, which are not unionized, actually make more money on an hourly basis compared to GM’s unionized workers. Barra responded that based on her last look, this was not the case. She also emphasized that GM’s workers get benefits such as health insurance.

In a comment on Twitter, Musk noted that Sorkin’s math actually adds up. The CEO also highlighted that Tesla employees, apart from making more money, also receive benefits such as health insurance and even TSLA stock. “This is true. Also, Tesla employees get health insurance, stock & other benefits,” Musk wrote.

Musk’s comments may be brief, but they do set the record straight about Tesla and how it pays its workers. Being a company that does not utilize union labor like Japanese automakers Toyota and Honda, Tesla is subjected to a substantial amount of criticism about its workforce. Over the years, Tesla has been accused for being anti-union, with the National Labor Relations Board deciding earlier this year that the company violated labor laws when it fired a union activist in the past. Musk was also ordered to delete a tweet which stated that Tesla workers would have to give up their TSLA stock options if they were to unionize.

It should be noted that Tesla’s Fremont Factory used to be NUMMI, a union-run plant jointly operated by Toyota and GM. NUMMI was closed down following GM’s bankruptcy in 2009, which caused a lot of tense situations with the factory’s unionized workforce. During a meeting between NUMMI employees and UAW officials amidst the closure of the plant, things became so heated that an outraged worker and a union official ended up in a cussing match. A physical altercation almost happened as well. Perhaps it is then unsurprising to see that Tesla’s workers, some of which may likely know how the NUMMI’s union workers were left out to dry in the past, are not necessarily enthusiastic about unionizing today.

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Maria Merano: Veteran writer and editor, who believes harmony between tech and nature is achievable. We just need to learn to compromise.
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