The United Auto Workers (UAW) has reportedly offered to provide support for organizers aiming to unionize Tesla’s electric car factory in Fremont, California. This move would bring the UAW, a revitalized union, into conflict with Elon Musk, who is both the world’s richest man and known for opposing unions.
According to Common Dreams, a UAW organizing committee at Tesla’s plant in Fremont is currently engaging in discussions with employees about the benefits of collective bargaining. The UAW is pledging unlimited funds for the Fremont unionization campaign.
Tesla, the leading company in the US electric vehicle market, has long feared labor organizers.
In February, Tesla terminated several employees at its Buffalo factory who had expressed their intention to unionize. The workers are appealing to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), claiming that the terminations were illegal.
UAW President Shawn Fain, elected earlier this year, has indicated the union’s intention to pursue unionization efforts at Tesla following successful tentative contract agreements with General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis.
If approved, the UAW’s tentative agreements will see workers receive a 25% pay hike over a four-year window. This equates to an average annual pay raise of 6.25%. By comparison, unionized Ford workers have only received an average annual pay raise of 1.1% since 2001.
As such, the UAW views the tentative agreements as the beginning of a resurgence of union activism in the US.
New: Employees at Tesla’s Fremont California car factory have formed an organizing committee with the UAW. After the UAW’s big wins at the Big Three, will this time be different? https://t.co/qRq3s3EqiW w/ @danahull
— Josh Eidelson (@josheidelson) October 30, 2023
According to Fain, one of the key objectives after winning the historic contract is to enhance organizational efforts. Fain is promising that when contracts are up for renegotiation in 2028, the UAW will have organized the Big Five or Big Six automakers, not just the Big Three.
Tesla is not the only non-unionized automaker in America. Foreign companies like Toyota and Hyundai also operate non-unionized plants. However, Musk’s insults of the labor movement have made Tesla the UAW’s biggest target.
Musk has personally voiced opposition to unionization, labeling previous unionization attempts as “morally outrageous.” In a 2018 tweet, Musk threatened to seize workers’ stock options if they chose to unionize.
The NLRB found Musk’s tweet to be in violation of US labor law, a decision that Tesla has appealed.
It’s not only in the United States where Tesla is battling unionization efforts. In October, numerous workers at Tesla’s Giga Berlin factory joined the IG Metall union due to overwork. The exact number of Tesla employees who joined the union is unknown.
Image Source: UAW, https://shorturl.at/bEV19