Tesla factory worker goes public about working conditions at Fremont plant, calls for union

Discussion in 'In the News' started by Teslarati, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. Teslarati

    Teslarati Administrator

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    Amid the high flying excitement over reports that Tesla will begin pilot production of Model 3 on Feb. 20, two days before the company is expected to report earnings, comes a public outcry from a Tesla factory worker citing tough working conditions are prompting workers to consider unionizing.

    Jose Moran, a production worker at Tesla's Fremont, California plant, describes long hours and low pay being offered by the Silicon Valley-based electric car company have caused him and many of his colleagues to be "fed up" and in need of union support. "Many of us have been talking about unionizing, and have reached out to the United Auto Workers for support. The company has begun to respond. In November, they offered a raise to employees’ base pay — the first we’ve seen in a very long time.", says Moran.

    Though Moran indicates that employees at the factory were required to sign confidentiality agreements barring them from speaking publicly about wages and working conditions, he nonetheless took to Medium to describe his account of life at the Tesla factory.

    "Management actions are feeding workers’ fears about speaking out. Recently, every worker was required to sign a confidentiality policy that threatens consequences if we exercise our right to speak out about wages and working conditions. Thankfully, five members of the California State Assembly have written a letter to Tesla questioning the policy and calling for a retraction."

    Moran makes it clear that he's proud to be part of the team and believes that Tesla is one of most innovative companies in the world. "We are working hard to build the world’s #1 car — not just electric, but overall." But at the same time, Moran emphasizes that the issues at hand go beyond receiving "fair pay". "Injuries, poor morale, unfair promotions, high turnover, and other issues aren’t just bad for workers — they also impact the quality and speed of production. They can’t be resolved without workers having a voice and being included in the process.", notes Moran.

    At a time when Tesla CEO Elon Musk is taking every initiative to double the size of its factories while maximizing production efficiency, and putting added pressure on staff to realize his vision for a green future, Moran notes that Tesla can't lose sight of the well being of its devoted employees.

    "Tesla isn’t a startup anymore. It’s here to stay. Workers are ready to help make the company more successful and a better place to work. Just as CEO Elon Musk is a respected champion for green energy and innovation, I hope he can also become a champion for his employees. As more of my coworkers speak out, I hope that we can start a productive conversation about building a fair future for all who work at Tesla."

    Article: Tesla factory worker goes public about working conditions at Fremont plant, rallies for union support
     
  2. clprenz

    clprenz Member

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    With as many workers as they have- I was surprised they weren’t unionized yet. While it hurts Tesla financially, I’m sure it will help them organizationally.
    What do you guys think?
     
  3. gene

    gene Moderator

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    Fear of Musk.

    Elon responded to these allegations in a private DM to Gizmodo.

    “There is sometimes mandatory overtime if we are trying to make up for a production stoppage, but it is dropping almost every week,” he wrote.

    Regarding potentially low wages, Musk claims that Tesla offers a higher starting pay than those unionized in the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) and that “total compensation is higher for a given level of seniority when factoring in stock grants.” How much stock is meted out, to whom, and after how many years of employment was not specified. He further described his car company as “union neutral,” and characterized the confidentiality policy as a means to prevent trade secrets from leaking.

    Musk even went on the offensive against Moran, attempting to discredit his assertions about Tesla. “Our understanding is that this guy was paid by the UAW to join Tesla and agitate for a union. He doesn’t really work for us, he works for the UAW,” Musk wrote. He added in a separate response, “Frankly, I find this attack to be morally outrageous. Tesla is the last car company left in California, because costs are so high. The UAW killed NUMMI and abandoned the workers at our Fremont plant in 2010. They have no leg to stand on.”



     
  4. clprenz

    clprenz Member

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    Solid response. I have mixed feelings on it. With the type of post that Moran posted, I feel Elon could be right. Coming from a town that just lost an auto manufacturer, Mitsubishi, it was well known that the UAW could have been cause of death for the factory. When Rivian, the new owner, came into town it was very clear that the local UAW paid people to speak for the company getting local incentives. For those reasons, I think it is very possible that Moran works for the UAW and is just trying to unionize the factory for UAW benefits.

    When touring the factory this summer it looked like a fantastic place to work! I had visited the Jaguar factory in England and Tesla's factory seemed to have way better benefits and atmosphere.
     
  5. fasteddie2020

    fasteddie2020 Member

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    I toured the plant prior to vehicle delivery in 2014. Having been a supplier to Detroit for many years, I recognized that there were two classes of employees at Freemont: enthusiastic younger employees who were fully engaged...and older workers doing "The UAW Stroll," the leisurely pace that includes a scow for all others. I asked our guide how may of the workforce were previous UAW workers. He said, "Good eye! Yes, about 40% of the hourly workforce are former UAW workers. There were many left in the area when Tesla took over the plants, so...."

    UAW folks are a big part of the reason why Detroit became uncompetitive. I would hate to see this at Freemont. UAW Attacks Another Supplier.jpg
     
  6. Mark Schaffer

    Mark Schaffer Member

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    From near the bottom of the Gizmodo article:

    ...
    Gizmodo was unable to find anyone by the name of Jose Moran currently working for Tesla on any social media, and his Medium post does not give any contact information.

    Update 10/2/17 8:32am EST: A Tesla-employed Jose Moran profile has been created on LinkedIn. To the best of our knowledge it did not exist yesterday afternoon.


    Update 10/2/17 9:20am EST: In a statement this morning UAW categorically denied that Moran had ever been paid by their organization. “Mr. Moran is not and has not been paid by the UAW,” the statement claims. “We would hope that Tesla would apologize to their employee.” UAW goes on to confirm reporting done by Bloomberg yesterday that “Mr. Moran and others at Tesla, have approached the UAW.” ..."
     
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  7. Mark Schaffer

    Mark Schaffer Member

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    Personal anecdote that is useless noted. Prove UAW was a "...big part..." of the problem rather than just asserting it.
     
  8. gene

    gene Moderator

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    It definitely wasn't on LinkedIn when we first checked before the story. He must have put it there to validate his stance that he's a Tesla employee after Musk refuted it.

    Great update! Thanks for sharing.
     
  9. DOA

    DOA New Member

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    Totally opinion here so take it for what it is.
    I have been a local to Fremont for most of my 60+ years.
    Two tours of the Fremont plant when GM had it. Dirty, noisy and dangerous place to work.
    One tour of the NUMMI plant. Much cleaner, still noisy but less dangerous.
    One tour of the TESLA plant. Clean, well lit, obvious emphasis on safety and quiet (comparatively).

    I have witnessed many UAW strikes here and some involved neighbors. They always hurt all concerned and were mostly to solidify UAW ranks. It's easy to see who is loyal to the UAW during a strike so the UAW needs them to cull the dissenters.
    IMHO, keep the UAW out. Unions are necessary to keep the companies honest, but open shops are necessary to keep the unions honest.
     
  10. Fairestcape

    Fairestcape New Member

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    There are so many things about Tesla that are unique that it's hard to equate or apply "conventional" corporate cultures and philosophies to it. If one looks at the history of worker unions (which really only took root in the first couple of decades of the 20th century) the rationale behind worker unionisation has swayed to and fro for the last 100 years. Focused and energetic entrepreneurs often struggle with the apparent dichotomy of having to rely on the input of people who don't "match" their own levels of commitment and "dedication" to the task ahead. In a small organisation (which Tesla once was), it was easier to surround ones-self with like-minded people (like-minded in the sense that the same degree of commitment existed), but as an organisation grows, there are as many levels of personal commitment as there are people employed in the organisation. What motivates one person may be very different from what motivates another. Look at Nikola Tesla himself... he had a disregard for material wealth that bordered on disdain and he spent the last few years of his life in relative poverty, and seemingly not bothered by it at all - though his mental state may have been a bigger influence on this indifference than historians give credit for.

    That aside... as an organisation grows and attracts an increasingly divergent range of people - each with personal aspirations and goals, the propensity for a "clash of cultures" grows. Historically, capitalist America has been rather ugly. The great American Dream has, for many, been more of a nightmare, and it's not hard to see why many people argue strongly for unionisation in the industrial sector. The bosses of the "conventional" car companies (particularly second and third-generation bosses) ruthlessly milked their companies for self-enrichment - at the very noticeable expense of the collective workforce.

    So it's perhaps no real surprise why some people regard a rapidly-growing automotive industrial entity with considerable suspicion. The subterfuge under which most of the USA's automotive giants have operated for decades is a brush with which Tesla is unfortunately tarred.

    It's going to be a very fine balancing act for the Tesla executives for the next few years. The exponential rate of growth that is starting to occur will make huge demands on the whole workforce, and many employees will either not be able to cope with this, or not be able to reconcile with it.

    I'm no expert on HR, but it may be worth alerting potential recruits to the degree to which they may have to make sacrifices (perhaps "adjustments" is a better word) when/if they come aboard may be a good part of a fairly intensive "pre-induction" programme. If people have a very clear idea of what may be expected of them, it will help them make the decision to join, or walk away.
     
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  11. Mergoscia

    Mergoscia Member

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    For a total different topic it is stupid for mr Moran or through him the UAW to speak out that loud.

    It gives President Trump the change to say that immigrants with a Hispanic / Mexican background are bad workers, making uproar and bad for the American economy. And that therefore the Wall between Mexico and USA is moraly legit. So stupid action!

    And if.......there are issues with working conditions and payment, form a group, pass all management and go to (a part of) the board and talk things through in silence and diplomacy.
     
  12. Mergoscia

    Mergoscia Member

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    Looking at the Linkedinpage of mr Moran, I tend to think he will fall in the theory of Peter's priciple:" In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence".
    In other words.... peolpe like him want promotions and they will get promotions (soon enough) untill they meet a function in which they cannot deliver. But unfortunately for them... In the 50 or 60 years that Peter's principle does exit, it has developed as well. When they work for a couple of months / years in such a function they get burn-outs and will be laid of. Out of work , out of income and then thinking: "What did I do, so stupid of me with my big mouth".
     
  13. Fairestcape

    Fairestcape New Member

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    I don't think this is a worry... Even though Mr Trump is not the brightest of people, he won't even bother about a small. isolated incident like this. In any big organisation, there will always be people who feel they are getting "unfair" treatment. In many cases, these people don't have much loyalty to the organisation they work in, but see it as just a means to earn some money and pay the bills. (In fact... MOST people do not like the jobs they are doing and devote as little time as they possibly can to their work).

    But you also have to look at this in the wider historical context. In the USA, where the general tendency among company owners and managers (shareholders and senior executives) has been to greedily sweep up as much of the earnings as they can for themselves, people in lower rank and file positions are naturally hostile and suspicious. The car industry in the USA (as well as the oil industry) are historically two of the industries that have been ruthlessly milked by their shareholders and senior executives at the expense of the general workforce. This is one of the main reasons for the decline in manufacturing in the USA, but is a legacy that Tesla has to live with. People (workers) - and typically the older workers who have been badly treated by the industry - will be far less "trusting" of their employers because their past experiences have conditioned them to be like this.

    Young people, going into work for the first time, or who have not had to endure half a lifetime of sweat and tears only to see others derive the benefits, will be more in tune to the hard-work ethic. I understand that Tesla has a share options scheme for employees... This is the way to go, but even here, American companies that incentivise performance on this basis face a big challenge. Most Americans want to get the "benefits of their labour" NOW... today... immediately...

    A change in culture is needed... Less greed, more hubris, greater tolerance and commitment.
     
  14. Mergoscia

    Mergoscia Member

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    Even though Mr Trump is not the brightest of people.........Is this a overstatement or a understatement, ha, ha?

    I have been working my , bleep, bleep, off over the last 41 years in Europe. And I have been a member of the union, although not the regular labour or worker type. In one organisation there were issues over working conditions and payment and the unions wanted to clash, by strikes, with the board and senior management. I knew the management and board were ready for strikes in general and would communicate with the media at the moment the unions would issue an action. I told the unions, but they didn't want to listen. So me and a few other collegues went to the board and the senior management and had a nice and diplomatic meeting. Seemed the board and senior management never knew about the working conditions and payment. After two months both issues were resolved by the senior management. So the unions were out of power with that point. And all the workforce was very happy, never knowing what happened behind closed doors.
    Mostly this is a better way to get what you want. But you have to be resourceful in negotiations.
     
  15. Mergoscia

    Mergoscia Member

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    "Most Americans want to get the "benefits of their labour" NOW... today... immediately...

    A change in culture is needed... Less greed, more hubris, greater tolerance and commitment."

    The same here in Europe.
    I agree to the idea of giving employees parts of ownership of a company and more saying via Employees Councils.
     
  16. Mergoscia

    Mergoscia Member

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    I still want my P85 Dual Drive AWD Tesla model 3 ASAP
     
  17. Fairestcape

    Fairestcape New Member

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    But the difference is that you won't "go on strike" if there's a bit of a delay.
     
  18. Mergoscia

    Mergoscia Member

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    Who says so?
     

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