Tesla employees in New York want to unionize because they're 'tired of being treated like robots'

·2 min read
Tesla factory in Buffalo, New York.
Tesla factory in Buffalo, New York. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla employees at a factory in Buffalo, New York, have started a campaign to form a union, a group representing the workers announced Tuesday.

If successful, the organization, Tesla Workers United, would be the first union at the electric vehicle company, which until now has been able to avoid unionization, unlike the majority of other automakers.

"We are Tesla workers seeking a voice on the job," Tesla Workers United wrote on Twitter. "We believe that by having a union at Tesla, we will further the mission of sustainability and foster a progressive environment for us all."

While the workers' statement did not outline a full list of grievances with Tesla, employees told Bloomberg that they were "seeking better pay and job security alongside a reduction in production pressures that they say have been harmful to their health."

Workers told the outlet that Tesla exercises strict control over their lives while at work. This includes monitoring the number of keystrokes employees make on the computer to track exactly how long they spend working. Employees told Bloomberg that this often leads to people avoiding bathroom breaks.

"People are tired of being treated like robots," said Ali Celli, a member of Tesla Workers United's organizing committee.  "We have such a rush to get things done that I don't know if it's actually being well thought out."

In addition to workplace issues, employees also said that they were seeking increased wages. According to Bloomberg, most of the 800 workers at the factory get a starting wage of about $19 per hour.

CNBC noted that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been combative against unionizing, tweeting in 2018, "Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union...but why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?"

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