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Tesla Gigafactory Texas construction workers sue for labor violations, claim unsafe conditions

Construction workers at Tesla Gigafactory Texas are suing for labor violations amid claims of unsafe conditions at the sprawling site.

Gigafactory Texas is Tesla’s latest giant factory site under construction with several large buildings being built to support electric vehicle and battery production.

Tesla has been employing thousands of construction workers at the site over the last two years through contractors and subcontractors.

Now some of them are now filing a complaint and case referral with the federal Department of Labor, according to a new report from The Guardian:

Construction workers who toiled on one of Tesla’s sprawling so-called Gigafactories will file a complaint and a case referral with the federal Department of Labor on Tuesday detailing exploitative work conditions they say they experienced while building the plant.

The allegations in the complaint include claims of being forced to work in unsafe conditions, faking accreditations, and even wage theft.

One of the workers, only known as Victor, claimed to have been given fake, digital OSHA 10 and 30 certificates by his manager without ever receiving the required training. In the complaint filed by Workers Defense Project, which is helping the Gigafactory workers, the names of the contractors involved have been redacted.

Top comment by Jon A

Liked by 21 people

Please fix the headline - the word "sue" is a bit ambiguous and most people interpret it to mean that a lawsuit has been filed. No lawsuit has been filed. Workers Defense Project has helped some construction workers make complaints to the Labor Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. DOL and OSHA will now review the complaints and send notices to the contractors and subs. If the contractors and subs fail to remedy the situation, they may face fines or lawsuits from DOL and/or OSHA.

Worker's Defense Project does this kind of thing routinely, because workplace safety violations and wage theft are not unusual in the Texas construction industry. It is unlikely that Tesla is responsible for these violations, or will be adversely affected by the DOL and OSHA complaints, due to the layers of contractors and subs that actually administer the project and perform the work.

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Victor also described dangerous working conditions at the construction site:

He told the Guardian that his team was directed to work on the metal factory roof at night with no lights, labor on top of turbines that were blowing smoke without protective masks, and otherwise put themselves at risk without basic information on how to stay safe.

In one instance, Victor said he and his colleagues were expected to keep up production on a flooded first floor – despite observing there was live wiring all over the place and cords in the water. He remembers telling his wife: “I’m going to die in this factory.”

On another occasion, Victor worked with a man who was so desperate for money he returned to the job in a brace after breaking his arm on site.

As for the claim of wage theft, other workers in the complaint claimed that they were asked to keep working over Thanksgiving last year, but they claimed to have never received the double-pay bonuses they had been promised.

While none of these workers were directly employed by Tesla, Hannah Alexander, a staff attorney for Workers Defense Project, claimed the automaker could have still helped construction workers, but it “didn’t seem interested”:

“Tesla was not – didn’t seem – interested in using their power to ensure that everyone was able to go home at the end of the day without injuries, with all the money that they’re owed in their pockets.”

Now the case is in the hands of the Department of Labor. Tesla has yet to comment on the case.

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