It pays to be super-secretive, and now one U.S. group claims that Tesla's secrecy has violated labor laws. Tesla -- a company that prides itself on acquiring excellent talent and challenging traditional business --is firing right back.
In April, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint of intimidation and harassment of Tesla workers by other staff. Several workers at Tesla's assembly plant in Fremont, California filed the charges. The complaint even mentions the International Union, United Automobil, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) as taking issue with Tesla's practices.
The NLRB functions as an independent government watchdog agency for labor laws in the United States. At the heart of the NLRB is the National Labor Relations Act signed into law in 1935. It works "to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy," the NLRB notes.
Tesla and the Fight Against Unions
Tesla's responded with a rather cold tone, particularly directing some low-blows to the UAW and its validity. A Tesla statement acquired by Jalopnik about the issue says:
"As we approach Labor Day weekend, there’s a certain irony in just how far the UAW has strayed from the original mission of the American labor movement, which once advocated so nobly for the rights of workers and is the reason we recognize this important holiday. Faced with declining membership, an overwhelming loss at a Nissan plant earlier this month, corruption charges that were recently leveled against union leaders who misused UAW funds, and failure to gain traction with our employees, it’s no surprise the union is feeling pressured to continue its publicity campaign against Tesla. For seven years, the UAW has used every tool in its playbook: misleading and outright false communications, unsolicited and unwelcomed visits to the homes of our employees, attempts to discredit Tesla publicly in the media, and now another tactic that has been used in every union campaign since the beginning of time – baseless ULP filings that are meant only to generate headlines. These allegations, which have been filed by the same contingent of union organizers who have been so outspoken with media, are entirely without merit. We will obviously be responding as part of the NLRB process."
But Tesla employees aren't seeing eye-to-eye with their employer, even one as eccentric as Elon Musk himself.
Jonathan Galescu is one of the Fremont employees. In a statement, Galescu said, "I know my rights, and I know that we acted within them. I'm hopeful that the company will take a more positive view of workers' opinions and feedback and that management and workers can improve the company processes -- and safety -- by working together."
This also isn't the first worker complaint about the company. CEO Elon Musk vehemently rails against the smallest hint of unionization. He's also the type of boss to offer to take over the production line spot for an injured worker. While that might seem like an "oh wow, what a cool boss" kind of moment, some say it just shows how far Musk would go to avoid bringing in any sort of union assistance or accountability.
The hearing between the NLRB and Tesla regarding these claims will happen on November 14 in Oakland, California, according to document details.