Tesla deals with the spectrum of unsafe labor conditions
Image: Wired

Earlier this year, Tesla factory workers at the Fremont, California facilities contacted the United Automobile Workers (UAW) to unionize based on complaints about unsafe conditions, long overtime shifts, and low wages. However, the company has proved that it is one of the safest in the U.S. and the world.

A spokesperson for the automaker claims they have implemented several new safety measures designed to reduce workloads and increase security. On the other hand, three factory employees and the UAW have each filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

Tesla’s Fremont factory is the last standing manufacturing plant in the state, employing over 10,000 workers in the auto sector to drive the second most valuable automaker business in the country.

Tesla says the UAW and the media are using a misleading speech

Representatives of Tesla have spoken out against schemes from the UAW planning to organize workers into a union. Company spokespeople say the labor organization is trying to spin the narrative against them in the media by antagonizing the firm and spreading false information.

The automaker turned clean energy empire responded back in May with an official statement outlining all the changes the company had gone through at the same time the UAW tried to demonize its factories in the news.

Tesla highlighted that as early as last year they had added a third shift to alleviate overtime workloads needed to meet demands of the Model S and X. This allowed workers to spend more time at home and not get too overworked, two of the main complaints by factory employees.

Moreover, the overtime rates have since dropped 60% as a direct result. The company also introduced an Ergonomics Team to its factories in 2015 to improve working conditions and reduce chances of injury due to an inadequate physical effort.

The Elon Musk-led automaker has also brought ergonomic security to the design of their cars themselves and established Safety Teams across the plant to pay attention to potential flaws, as well as to foster best security practices in work environments.

By the end of Q1 2017, Tesla’s total recordable incident rate (TRIR), an OSHA metric standard to measure workplace safety, sat at 4.6. which is 32% below the auto industry average of 6.7. It means Tesla factories are 32% safer that your common U.S. auto plant.

Female workers tried to harm Tesla’s reputation with sexual harassment claims 

While the issue of workplace security has been addressed and debunked, there are still some hard questions that need answers. Jose Moran, the worker who is credited as the starter of this union revolution at Tesla, also sought to find out why wages were so low at the Fremont plant.

In a Medium post, Moran claims Tesla workers make between $17 and $21 per hour, while the auto industry average is more than $25.50 an hour. What’s more, The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average hourly wage for car manufacturers at $29.53 as of December last year.

Speaking to Gizmodo after the controversy, Elon Musk argued that manual laborers at Tesla plants had higher starting salaries than others and that stock grant compensation evened out any inconsistencies in payment when workers had a proven track record with the company.

Still, those answers did not cite any concrete numbers, and with Tesla stock plummeting earlier this week, the financial security the CEO used as a reference might have changed.

Recently, the Women in Tesla group also banded to voice their concerns over auto plants, claiming they are, essentially, “predator zones” for women. These allegations come at the same time the tech industry is being swept by a wave of sexual harassment accusations.

Source: Tesla