A group of Tesla workers in Buffalo, New York, emailed CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday to announce their intention to unionize. collectively named Tesla United Workersthe group hopes to form the first electric vehicle company union.
Many of the workers at Tesla’s Buffalo factory label data as part of the automaker’s autopilot team, a job that may not be as critical to Tesla’s operations in the future. At least, that was the conclusion last June, when Tesla closed its San Mateo office, laying off 229 Autopilot workers who took data to train the automated driving system. The remaining 47 workers were relocated to Buffalo.
Buffalo workers are organizing for job security and better wages and working conditions with Workers United, the same group that helped form the nation’s first unionized Starbucks, also located in Buffalo. This local store’s union movement has set off a chain reaction across the US – now, more than 250 Starbucks stores in 40 states have voted to unionize since December 2021.
“Union membership will further accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy because it will give us a voice in our workplace and in the goals we set for ourselves,” the organizing committee wrote in a statement. declaration. “Having greater sustainability in our own professional lives and individual well-being will translate into greater ability to achieve these goals, which is why we strongly believe that sustainability starts with us.”
Data labelers are not only seeking security in their livelihoods, they are also overwhelmed by pressure at work. According to the Bloomberg report, Tesla tracks keystrokes by employees to determine how much work they put into each of their tasks. Six employees said this vigilance, along with the pressure of aggressive metrics and deadlines, led some workers to miss the bathroom. Roles pay a minimum of around $19 per hour.
In announcing its union campaign, Tesla Workers United’s first objective is to get Tesla to sign a fair election principles document, which would prevent the company from retaliating against organizing workers.
In the past, Musk has mocked unions. He faced backlash from the United States National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over a tweet as of 2018, implying that employees would lose their stock options if they joined a union with the United Auto Workers. The NLRB also found that Tesla violated labor laws by interfering with employee organization at its Fremont, California, facility. In particular, these violations occurred when Tesla created rules to prevent off-duty workers from distributing fliers about union organizing and fired two employees involved in union efforts.