The new effort to unionize Tesla’s Fremont Factory saw a new development today as the president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), Dennis Williams, held a press conference during which he answered questions about Tesla.
Williams confirmed that they sent out organizers to help in the effort to unionize the plant and a full campaign could follow.
It looks like a more aggressive move than what was disclosed by the union last week.
The most recent effort to unionize the plant was started earlier this month by a plea from a single Tesla employee, which CEO Elon Musk reduced to a “union agitator” placed by UAW.
After Musk made the statement, the UAW denied having anything to do with the employee in question, but they said that they have been contacted by Tesla workers.
Today, Williams said that organizers are now in Fremont (via Bloomberg):
“We have organizers out there. I do have a guy I hired who is a labor organizer but there’s nothing abnormal about it.”
While they claim to be only now sending organizers, Williams said that they have been in contact with “a group of employees” for about “6-7 months”.
As we previously reported, the UAW has actually been sniffing around Tesla’s growing workforce at the Fremont factory for a while longer than that. There were a few attempts over the years dating back in 2014, but last year, UAW President Dennis Williams said that they were “respecting Tesla’s startup status” up until now.
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As Tesla is about to start Model 3 production with a goal of achieving an annual production rate of 500,000 cars within the next ~18 months, the company would certainly graduate from anything close to a startup and become an important US automaker.
Of course, there’s the question of whether or not Tesla workers actually want a union. There have been plenty of complaints from employees in the past about long hours, but with now over 6,000 employees in Fremont, it’s difficult to tell really how widespread is the discontent.
Tesla has been reportedly quite forward in its hiring process and with the media about long hours. In a response to questions about the long hours last year, a company representative told us that “changing the world is not a 9 to 5 job”.
There is also the most recent complaint about the working conditions leading to work injuries – something Musk says he is investigating and should publish the results by the end of the week.
We likely haven’t heard the end of this new effort to unionize Tesla Fremont now that the UAW is investing in the effort.