Workers at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, Calif., are considering unionizing and have reached out to United Auto Workers (UAW), according to an employee who criticized the electric car company’s treatment of labor.
In a Medium post published Thursday, Jose Moran wrote about how employees are underpaid, working mandatory overtime and suffering preventable injuries.
According to Moran, who said he’s worked at Tesla for four years, the issue has reached the California Legislature and members of the California State Assembly have written a letter to Tesla questioning a confidentiality policy employees are required to sign.
“The issues go much deeper than just fair pay,” Moran wrote. “Injuries, poor morale, unfair promotions, high turnover, and other issues aren’t just bad for workers — they also impact the quality and speed of production.”
In his post, Moran alleges that six of the eight people on his team were on medical leave a few months ago due to work-related injuries. Other departments, he said, are rumored to be worse. Additionally, employees reportedly work 60-to-70 hours a week.
“In addition to long working hours, machinery is often not ergonomically compatible with our bodies,” Moran wrote. “There is too much twisting and turning and extra physical movement to do jobs that could be simplified if workers’ input were welcomed. Add a shortage of manpower and a constant push to work faster to meet production goals, and injuries are bound to happen.”
Elon Musk reportedly responded to the Medium post in messages to Gizmodo.
“Our understanding is that this guy was paid by the UAW to join Tesla and agitate for a union. He doesn’t really work for us, he works for the UAW,” Musk told Gizmodo. “Frankly, I find this attack to be morally outrageous. Tesla is the last car company left in California, because costs are so high. The UAW killed NUMMI and abandoned the workers at our Fremont plant in 2010. They have no leg to stand on.”
When asked for comment, a Tesla spokesperson said this wasn’t the first time “professional” union organizing efforts have targeted Tesla.
“The safety and job satisfaction of our employees here at Tesla has always been extremely important to us,” Tesla said in a statement. “We have a long history of engaging directly with our employees on the issues that matter to them, and we will continue to do so because it’s the right thing to do.”
Update Friday, Feb. 10: UAW has issued the following response to Elon Musk’s conversation with Gizmodo: “Mr. Moran is not and has not been paid by the UAW. We would hope that Tesla would apologize to their employee, Mr. Moran, for spreading fake news about him. We can confirm that Mr. Moran and others at Tesla have approached the UAW, and we welcome them with open arms.”