Tesla Fires Dozens of Workers One Day After Launching Union Campaign – According to a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board, Tesla has terminated over 30 employees at its factory in Buffalo, New York, in response to union organizing, as reported by Bloomberg. On Tuesday, a group of Tesla employees working as data labelers on the Autopilot team at the company’s Buffalo plant, known as Tesla Workers United, declared their intention to unionize.
They cited concerns about job security, compensation, and working conditions as reasons for organizing with Workers United, the same group that helped form the country’s first unionized Starbucks. After their unionization efforts were made public, several employees were terminated on Wednesday, as claimed by the workers in their complaint, alleging that they were fired in retaliation for engaging in union activity and to discourage others from doing so.
The union organizers are “seeking injunctive relief to prevent irreparable destruction of employee rights resulting from Tesla’s unlawful conduct,” the complaint says. Tesla Workers United, in a statement said it “wants to make their stance clear. These firings are unacceptable. The expectations required of us are unfair, unattainable, ambiguous and ever changing. For our CEO, Elon Musk, to fire 30 workers and announce his $2 billion charity donation on the same day is despicable. We stand as one.”
As per the complaint, the workers stated that on Wednesday evening, they were sent an email regarding a new policy that bars employees from recording workplace meetings without the consent of all attendees. Tesla Workers United claims that this policy infringes upon federal labor regulations and contravenes New York’s one-party consent law for recording conversations.
“We’re angry. This won’t slow us down. This won’t stop us. They want us to be scared, but I think they just started a stampede. We can do this. But I believe we will do this,” Sara Costantino, current Tesla employee and organizing committee member, said in a statement. The individuals attempting to organize are members of the data annotation team responsible for Autopilot. Until the previous summer, Tesla employed a large number of data annotation staff who worked on the Autopilot team across two locations in San Mateo, California and Buffalo, New York.
In particular, the San Mateo branch had a workforce of 276 employees. However, in June, Tesla terminated the employment of 195 San Mateo staff members and closed the office, with around 81 employees being relocated to another office. The remaining data annotation workers, responsible for annotating images to assist Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance technology, are based in the Buffalo, New York facility.