- Tesla workers in New York say their keystrokes are monitored to ensure they are actively working, Bloomberg reported.
- Workers emailed Elon Musk to let him know they were campaigning for a union, the publication said.
- Tesla is far from the first company to use worker surveillance tactics.
Autopilot workers at Tesla’s New York factory said the company tracks their keystrokes to ensure they are actively working throughout the day, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
The tracking feature allows managers to see how much time employees spend on each task, as well as how active they are on the computer throughout the day, Bloomberg reported. Six Tesla employees told the publication that they avoided taking bathroom breaks because of the system.
Factory workers in Buffalo, New York, are paid about $19 an hour to label data collected from beta testers of Tesla’s self-driving software, Bloomber reported. On Tuesday, workers emailed Elon Musk to inform the billionaire of his union campaign, which is aimed at securing better wages and benefits, as well as tightening the workplace monitoring system, according to the report.
A Tesla spokesperson did not respond to an Insider request for comment prior to publication.
It’s not the first time Tesla has faced accusations that it tracks employees. Insider reported last year that Tesla began tracking workers’ office attendance using an automated system to track when staff entered or left its offices. The company is known for hitting high production targets, and Musk has expressed doubts about the American work ethic in the past.
Last year, Tesla’s CEO said in “People in America are trying to avoid going to work”. The billionaire made the comments shortly before informing employees that they will need to commit to returning to the office for at least 40 hours a week or quitting. Musk also expressed similar sentiments on Twitter, where the CEO asked the team to print out their code and send him updates on the work they were doing each week.
Workplace monitoring systems seem to be a growing trend. Last year, The New York Times reported that about eight of the top ten private employers in the United States track staff productivity. The post detailed various methods companies employed to measure employee productivity, from tracking mouse clicks and keystrokes to having staff take random photos to ensure employees were at their computers.
The practice of workplace surveillance has been a sticking point since the pandemic has fostered the rise of remote work. In September, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said managers suffer from “productivity paranoia” due to remote work. However, Microsoft Vice President Jared Spataro said the company has taken a “strong position” against worker surveillance.
“We don’t think employers should be keeping watch and noting keystroke activity and mouse clicks and that sort of thing because, in many ways, we feel like this is measuring heat rather than output,” Spataro said at the time. .
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