Tesla is currently fighting a new regulation in California that could deny Tesla buyers access to the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate, which offers $2,500 rebates at the purchase of electric vehicles, by tying the rules to new labor regulations for automakers producing cars in California.
The new rule is backed by the Union of Auto Workers (UAW), which is currently trying to unionize Tesla’s Fremont factory, and it would specifically target Tesla since it is the only large-scale automaker in the state.
The regulation being considered by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) would tie CARB’s rebate to new standards for a “fair and responsible workplace.”
In a letter to the two agencies, Tesla says it appreciates their efforts to “develop procedures for certifying manufacturers of vehicles included in the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) as being fair and responsible in the treatment of their workers.”
But the company thinks that it unfairly targets them because they cannot enforce those new standards, which are already arguably the toughest in the country, to other auto manufacturers outside the state.
Tesla describes the new provision as:
“a tool to influence the UAW’s organizing effort at Tesla’s Fremont factory. This is not just an equitable problem, it is a legal one. While a state can legally require that manufacturers meet generally applicable labor standards, it cannot target a single manufacturer under the guise of creating such a labor standard.”
Business groups have also expressed concerns that the new rule would prevent automakers from choosing California for future manufacturing investments.
Carl Guardino, president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, said in a letter supporting Tesla (via the LA Times):
The proposed rule “discourages future manufacturing investment in California by effectively holding companies that create manufacturing jobs in California to a different and higher standard,”
Global Automakers, a lobbyist group for automakers, told the state that they wouldn’t be able to penalize them over the new regulations:
“There is therefore no legal way that California could deprive a manufacturer from participating in the [rebate program] based on activities taking place entirely outside the state,”
UAW is calling for the regulation to move forward and certification to start as soon as next year.
Here’s the full letter that Tesla sent to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency and CARB:
It’s hard to be against a new regulation that calls for a “fair and responsible workplace.” I think everyone wants that, but I also think they could certainly enforce that without tying it the Clean Vehicle Rebate, which would only affect Tesla buyers for an unfair reason.
The goal of the Clean Vehicle Rebate is to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles by adding incentives that represent their benefits to the environment and public health.
When Tesla buyers purchase a Model 3 instead of a gas-burning vehicle, they are contributing to the Clean Vehicle Rebate’s mission so they should have access to it just as much as any other electric vehicle buyers.
It just seems like such a ridiculous way to enforce labor regulations that it’s easy to understand why Tesla feels unfairly targeted here.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.