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Tesla fires dozens of workers day after union drive starts

Tesla fires dozens of workers day after union drive starts

Elon Musk has previously criticised Tesla employees who joined unions

Tesla has allegedly fired dozens of workers, after employees at the Buffalo factory tried to unionize on Tuesday (14 February).

Many have called it ‘retaliation’ and fear that the car manufacturer will fire even more employees before the end of the week.

As over 800 autopilot analysts await to news, some of the fired employees have began taking legal action against the firm.

Tesla has fired over 30 employees.
VDWI Automotive / Alamy Stock Photo

The firings took place late on Wednesday night (15 February), with a group filling an unfair labour charge with the National Labor Relations Board shortly afterwards - according to Bloomberg.

A representative told the outlet that the dismissals were 'in retaliation for union activity and to discourage union activity'.

While Telsa have insisted that the firings were based the employee’s performance, one data analysts has questioned this, adding that this wasn’t scheduled until July.

The car manufacturer has insisted the firings were related to performance.
360b / Alamy Stock Photo

Speaking to Vice News, Alexandra Kowalewski, a data analyst who has worked at the Buffalo factory for more than a year, said: “It is very suspicious that it was ahead of schedule… Frankly, things are never ahead of schedule at Tesla.”

Employees now fear that more firings will come, with Kowalewski saying: “Everybody in the office is nervous…It’s an edgy atmosphere, and not a good kind. It’s nerve wracking."

It’s not the first time Tesla has responded negatively to employee joining a union.

Workers at the Buffalo factory had previously tried to unionise in 2019, but were unsuccessful and many of the company’s caretakers were also fired last year for similar reasons.

Employees have also been banned from wearing union branded t-shirts in California.

Elon Musk's tweet.
Twitter/ Elon Musk

Owner Elon Musk has also made it known how much he disapproved of unions. Back in 2018, he stated on Twitter that those that did so would have to ‘give up stock options’.

However, employees are reportedly still eager to join unions.

Many have been campaigning for increased job security and better working conditions, with data analysts allegedly earning just $19 per hour.

Elon Musk also banned workers wearing union t-shirts.
Kristoffer Tripplaar / Alamy Stock Photo

Kowalewski said that she’d originally joined the car manufacturer as it seemed ‘exciting’.

“When you first start, you’re like, ‘Oh, this is a cool job and exciting opportunity',” she said. “But then you start to realize it’s a job that expects you to be almost robotic in a way. You’re not really valued as a human."

However, on Thursday night (16 February), Tesla published a statement on its website describing the allegation of retaliatory firings as 'false', claiming the terminations were in fact performance-based and that the decision had been made to fire the employees on 3 February.

It said: “We learned in hindsight that one out of the 27 impacted employees officially identified as part of the union campaign.

“This exercise pre-dated any union campaign."

UNILAD has contacted Tesla for further comment.

Featured Image Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo/B Christopher / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Elon Musk, Tesla, Electric Cars, Cars, US News