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Crosscurrents

Tesla charged with blocking unionization push at Fremont plant

tesla_factory.jpg
Flickr user Steve Jurvetson (cropped from original, used under CC-BY)
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A Tesla Model S is built at the Fremont factory in 2011

Tesla is one of the largest employers in the Bay Area, with around 10,000 workers at its factory in South Fremont. That factory used to be the NUMMI plant, where General Motors partnered with Toyota to learn how to run an efficient assembly line with a relatively happy work force. Some current Tesla employees once worked at the NUMMI factory, which had a union. The Tesla factory does not.

Some Tesla workers have complained about dangerous working conditions, long hours, and even racist harassment. Many of the disgruntled employees are coordinating with the United Auto Workers — the automotive industry union — to try and bring organized labor into the Fremont plant.

Now, Tesla is facing charges that the company illegally intimidated employees who were handing out pro-union leaflets on Tesla property. At least one employee says he was fired as retaliation for trying to unionize.

Crosscurrents' Hana Baba spoke with transportation reporter Eli Wirtschafter about the ongoing labor dispute at Tesla.