Tesla Staff In NY Launch Union Campaign

Elon is not going to be pleased. Tesla workers in New York state launch unionisation campaign, despite Elon Musk opposition

Tesla is facing its first unionisation movement in the United States, with staff in New York state reportedly launching a unionisation campaign.

The electric-vehicle (EV) already has union representation overseas, but the New York move would be the first time it confronts a trade union for its staff in America.

The development was first reported by Bloomberg and then Reuters, and could led to a showdown with CEO Elon Musk, who in the past has made no secret of his opposition to trade unions.

elon musk, tesla, spacex
Image credit: SpaceX

Tesla unionisation

According to the reports, it seems that staff who label data for Tesla’s Autopilot technology at the company’s plant in Buffalo, New York, sent an email to Musk early Tuesday confirming their intent to unionise with the Workers United Upstate New York.

The Tesla staff reportedly state they’re seeking better pay and job security, alongside a reduction in production pressures that they say have been harmful to their health.

The letter cited staff asking Tesla management to respect their right to organise a union and called on the EV maker to sign the Fair Election Principles.

Employees said the right to organise a union is a fundamental civil right and the principles would prevent Tesla from threatening or retaliating against workers for organising a union.

“We believe unionising will give us a voice in our workplace that we feel has been ignored to this point,” the workers reportedly said in a press release on Tuesday. “We are only asking for a seat in the car that we helped build.”

Musk opposition

But Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been vocal about his opposition to trade unions in the past.

In June 2022 Germany’s largest trade union said it would back any Tesla employee not willing to comply with Elon Musk’s ‘return to the office or resign’ order.

Elon Musk had earlier issued a series of no nonsense emails to all Tesla workers, telling them to return to the office full time or resign.

Until now, Tesla has so far avoided unionisation at its American locations, unlike other car makers and tech firms.

Elon Musk’s anti-union stance was demonstrated when the US National Labor Relations Board ordered him to delete a 2018 tweet saying employees would lose their stock options if they formed a union.

The tweet is still online as of 14 February 2023.