Tesla answers claims of poor factory working conditions and unionization efforts

Jose Moran, who claims to be a Tesla employee working at the company's Fremont, California assembly facility, took to Medium on Thursday to detail working conditions at the company, and to detail efforts on behalf of factory employees to unionize, an initiative in the beginning stages of being supported by the United Autoworkers Union, the U.S. automotive industry's largest labor union.

In his post, Moran claims that Tesla factory employees earn less than the national average for auto workers, despite residing in the Bay area, where the cost of living is much higher than where most car factories reside. Moran says in the post that Tesla has begun to respond to worker concerns, with a base pay raise in November, yet it also has taken steps that seem to run counter to employee organization, including asking workers to sign a new confidentiality policy.

Moran also makes an appeal to Tesla management's desire for more smoothly run production operations, likely an attempt to get through to the company as it gears up for Model 3 production and will need to focus on maximizing efficiency.

A Tesla spokesperson provided the following response to Moran's post:

As California's largest manufacturing employer and a company that has created thousands of quality jobs here in the Bay Area, this is not the first time we have been the target of a professional union organizing effort such as this. The safety and job satisfaction of our employees here at Tesla has always been extremely important to us. 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.

Gizmodo also received direct comments from Elon Musk via Twitter DM regarding the Medium post and Tesla's treatment of its employees. Musk countered each of Moran's claims to Gizmodo, saying that mandatory overtime is occasionally required but that its use is dropping weekly, and noting that starting wages are higher than those offered to UAW employees, with total compensation also exceeding equivalent UAW wages when you factor in stock grants.

Musk doesn't claim to be anti-union in the exchange with Gizmodo, referring instead to his company as "union neutral," and he characterizes the Medium post an "attack" that's "morally outrageous" and potentially funded by UAW sources in order to further its agenda of creating a union at Tesla.

This article by Darrell Etherington originally ran on TechCrunch, a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.

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