A group of Tesla employees has written a letter to the independent members of the company’s board of directors. In it they push for access to Tesla’s safety plan, clarity on compensation and neutrality, and non-retaliation agreements in an effort toward unionization.
The letter and unionization efforts were led by the “Tesla Workers’ Organizing Committee”, and posted on union-backed website fairfutureattesla.org.
“We are facing a set of challenges – challenges that are holding us back from working as effectively and efficiently as we would like,” the letter says. “We have raised these issues repeatedly, but they remain unresolved. Your guidance navigating them would be invaluable as we work to become the most profitable and productive auto company in the U.S.”
A key point of the letter is for an increase in worker safety. The group cites 2015 Bureau of Labor statistics which indicate that the injury rate at Tesla was higher than that of sawmills and slaughter houses
“Severe incidents frequently impact morale and cause delays in production. We are losing great workers who are valuable to both our production team and to their families while they spend time on medical leave, recovering from preventable injuries.”
The workers also call for access to more information about injuries and hazards.
“If it is to be effective, frontline Tesla workers need to have access to, and a voice in, the company’s safety plan (known in California as the Injury and Illness Prevention Program), and the ability to review accurate data about the progress we are making toward those goals,” the letter says.
In addition to transparency on safety, the letter calls for transparency in terms of salaries and promotions.
“There is currently no clear policy for how workers like ourselves might advance at Tesla,” it says. “There are no guidelines for what is expected of us, or what defines success. Many of us have worked hard for years with the vague promise of a raise, to no end. We experience a great deal of workforce turnover due to the financial insecurity that we face at Tesla, and we strongly believe that a defined understanding of success and reward will have an impact on product quality.”
The final sticking point here is the non-retaliation agreement that employees would like to see with upper management.
“We should be free to speak out and to organize together to the benefit of Tesla and all of our workers,” the letter says. “When we have raised this with management we have been met with anti-union rhetoric. Other successful companies across industries have negotiated neutrality and non-retaliation agreements with workers, which protect workers’ ability to speak freely. Such agreements help build positive relationships between management and frontline workers.”
Retaliation has previously been mentioned by AJ Vandermeyden, the female engineer who was fired after suing the company for harassment. The letter does not mention Vandermeyden or harassment outright.
The letter ends simply with, “Again, we are proud of Tesla’s mission, and proud to be your partners in building the future. We are also concerned about our own futures, including our physical health and our financial well-being. We are looking to you for leadership in resolving these issues. And we look forward to working together to make Tesla the best car company in the world.”