For the first time since the early 20th century, a General Motors strike has not had a striking factory in California. After the closure of the Fremont Factory in 2009, GM hasnt come come back. Yet, as the 2019 GM strike seems to rage every place else but California, its last closed factory here could be seeing a spark in unions.
After Tesla bought the Fremont plant in 2009 and started producing Tesla electric cars, one major component of car factories was missing the United Auto Workers. Tesla has largely blocked unions. Prior attempts to unionize in 2017 and 2018 were stopped by various means, including supposed intimidation tactics and not allowing union literature inside the factory.
GM workers today want better pay, more secure jobs, and better healthcare. GM has responded that lower sales means that they have to cut costs and let people go to stay competitive.
While the pay is generally lower than other factories in the East, and job security and health care are often wanted, that isnt what concerns many workers at the Tesla Factory its the conditions.
We spoke with a factory worker, John, about the Fremont facility and whats happening, and about his concern about the conditions.
More money would be nice, but its not about that, John explained. We need to be safe here, and to work reasonable times.
We cant get through to management, so having a union get through that would be worth it. A lot of workers here think that paying union dues for that protection so we dont get crippled or die, is worth it.
John confirmed CNBC reports from two years ago about how workers were worked to the brink on the factory floor, working so long that management began giving red bull to keep workers awake. Even two years after the report, many workers are still facing tiring hours due to the high demand of Teslas.
Any talk of a union is quashed. Regardless of how anyone feels about unions, its still an American right to join one to achieve better conditions and achieve our own American Dream.
We always see things about how unions are corrupt, how theyll be a wall to management, and how they only care about money. At least one of my supervisors told me this. And, even if those are true, which they arent, a lot of workers here still want to join. Its that bad.
Other works have claimed that there is a fear that workers trying to unionize will also lose their jobs over it, and be told that it was for performance issues or some other excuse.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), has had Tesla under investigation on and off over its practices for over two years.
Tesla has said in response that they do care about employees health and well-being, and that they offer a good wage for more than 40,000 workers at the Fremont Plant. A worker who wished to remain anonymous told the Globe Its a good job. Its a factory job, so its not what youd call glamorous. But its pretty fair all in all. Many workers dont see why they need a union if everyone is being treated fairly.
Tesla has also said in a statement over its conditions and injury issues: Reducing excess overtime and improving safety are extremely important. This is why we hired thousands of additional team members to create a third shift, which has reduced the burden on everyone. Moreover, since the beginning of Tesla production at Fremont five years ago, there have been dedicated health and safety experts covering the factory and we hold regular safety meetings with operations leaders. Since the majority of the injuries in the factory are ergonomic in nature, we have an ergonomics department focused exclusively on this issue.
The net result is that since January 1st, our total recordable incident rate (TRIR) is under 3.3, which is less than half the industry average of 6.7.
So what does this mean for the Tesla factory in Fremont?
If GM workers succeed and get the pay, job security, and healthcare theyre striking for, a successful strike could show workers in Fremont that strikes and unions can still get things done.
Thats it for a lot of people here, John stated. No one will join if they think it cant get anything done. But if this one works, and believe me, both the workers and management are paying attention to it, then were going to be seeing a lot more people asking about it. Well see more people wanting to join. Its happened before. Those first big strikes in Michigan in the 30s had a domino effect across the state, and onto places like Ohio.
In 2019, a successful strike in Michigan will hit us here in Fremont.
We are afraid of what will happen if we unionize, John added. But if workers, especially the younger ones who really dont like the idea of them or grew up without them, see what they can do, we just might have a union here.
The anonymous worker gave his take.
They dont have to work here, he said, audibly sighing on the phone. If we get a union involved, then that means we might see a shift go, or they move to Alabama or something. A lot of us are getting by fine. This will screw us all over, including people like me who dont want anything to do with them.
Both of our sources noted that management had been jumpy since Monday, and that televisions behind closed doors audibly had coverage of the strike going on. Both of our sources also said that the result of the GM strike will sway many workers on what they want.
It remains to be seen if the GM strike is ultimately successful. But it very well may hold the key to the future for the UAW setting up shop in Fremont once again.
Evan V. Symon is the Senior Editor for the California Globe. Prior to the Globe, he reported for the Pasadena Independent, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and was head of the Personal Experiences section at Cracked.
Click play for audio version of this story
See more here:
- The perfect all-electric Ford Mustang is actually a souped-up Tesla - The Next Web - August 8th, 2020
- GMs Cadillac Is Coming for Tesla. The Lyriq Is on the Way, - Barron's - August 8th, 2020
- Tesla Haters Need New Lines of Attack if They Want to Keep Betting Against the Stock - Barron's - August 8th, 2020
- Tesla makes tiny change to Model Y that will save owners some headaches - Electrek - August 8th, 2020
- Is Tesla's Obsession With Manufacturing Really Starting To Pay Off? - InsideEVs - August 8th, 2020
- How will Tesla rivals top this EV innovation? - Automotive News - August 8th, 2020
- Tesla touchscreen wiper controls akin to texting and driving: German court - Business Insider - Business Insider - August 8th, 2020
- Shares of electric vehicle makers Nio and Nikola could be a better bet than Tesla, traders say - CNBC - August 8th, 2020
- Tesla Model Y Review: What's The Verdict After Two Months Of Ownership? - InsideEVs - August 8th, 2020
- Teslas Chinese Rivals Are Riding an IPO Boom in the US Despite Political Tensions - Observer - August 8th, 2020
- Tesla Is Limiting Supercharging To 120 kW In Europe, But Why? - InsideEVs - August 8th, 2020
- Commentary: Tesla in Austin will benefit San Antonio - San Antonio Express-News - August 8th, 2020
- GM Is Looking Pretty Jealously At Tesla And Nikola - Jalopnik - August 8th, 2020
- Confused golden retriever wags its tail as Tesla-driving owner abandons it in park and races off - Metro.co.uk - August 8th, 2020
- Nikola Tesla - Inventions, Facts & Death - HISTORY - August 7th, 2020
- This 840 HP Electric Mustang Is Built on the Tesla Model S Platform - Robb Report - August 7th, 2020
- Three Modified Tesla Model 3 Race Cars Will Attack Pikes Peak This Year - The Drive - August 7th, 2020
- The Tesla Of Banking Start-Up Cred.ai Unveils Its AI-Powered Credit Card - Forbes - August 7th, 2020
- Europe Is Building the Next Tesla. Who Knew? - Yahoo Finance - August 7th, 2020
- Why cultivated meat is about to have its Tesla Roadster moment - Massive Science - August 7th, 2020
- Whats Ahead for Tesla, Nikola, and Other Electric-Vehicle Stocks - Barron's - August 7th, 2020
- Tesla Vs The Short Sellers: The Battle Is Never Over - InsideEVs - August 4th, 2020
- Check Out This Tesla Model S With A Rotary Engine: First EV Converted To Rotary? - InsideEVs - August 4th, 2020
- Tesla Model Y drive, Fisker and VW, the potential of bi-directional charging: Today's Car News - Green Car Reports - August 4th, 2020
- Here are Monday's biggest analyst calls of the day: Nikola, Merck, Yum! Brands, Tesla & more - CNBC - August 4th, 2020
- Chinese Tesla rival Xpeng Motors in talks over $300 million in funding ahead of U.S. IPO, sources say - CNBC - August 4th, 2020
- Don't Wait: Ten Reasons To Buy The Tesla Cybertruck NOW! - InsideEVs - August 4th, 2020
- Tesla Gets Yet Another Electric Vehicle to Compete With Ahead - 24/7 Wall St. - August 4th, 2020
- Exclusive: Panasonic aims to boost energy density in Tesla batteries by 20% - executive - Reuters - August 4th, 2020
- Tesla is working on massive sales presence expansion with new markets - Electrek - August 4th, 2020
- Tesla's Berlin plant on the fast track, minister says - Automotive News Europe - August 4th, 2020
- How Hyliions Under-30 CEO Aims To Compete With Tesla And Nikola In The Electric-Powered Big Rig Revolution - Forbes - August 4th, 2020
- Tesla shares sag as analyst flags mind-boggling valuation - The Detroit News - August 4th, 2020
- Ram Could Follow Tesla, Ford and GM and Build an Electric Pickup Truck. But Should They? - Gear Patrol - August 3rd, 2020
- Europe Is Building the Next Tesla. Who Knew? - Bloomberg - August 3rd, 2020
- Confused Tesla Model 3 Thinks It's a Lambo with Huge Wing and Louvered Window - autoevolution - August 3rd, 2020
- How Tesla Was Lured to Austin - Texas Monthly - August 3rd, 2020
- Elon Musk on Tesla Cybertruck: The goal is to kick most amount of ass possible with this truck - Electrek - August 3rd, 2020
- A.I. helps businesses recover from the lockdown And can Nissan take on Tesla? - Euronews - August 3rd, 2020
- Teslas Newest Partnership With An HBCU Is A Great Thing - CleanTechnica - August 3rd, 2020
- Tesla plans $780 million bond deal pegged to vehicle leasesits first such offering during the pandemic - MarketWatch - August 3rd, 2020
- Tesla fans snap up bonds tied to car maker's leases, its first such offering during pandemic - MarketWatch - July 31st, 2020
- Tesla and Nikola electric semis will arrive to rivals from traditional truck makers - Green Car Reports - July 31st, 2020
- Teslas Next Frontier The Tesla Home - CleanTechnica - July 31st, 2020
- What Are The Chances Tesla And Volkswagen Join Forces? - InsideEVs - July 31st, 2020
- Tesla is expanding battery cell manufacturing team, now hiring production associates - Electrek.co - July 31st, 2020
- Move over Tesla: Robinhood day-trading crowd finds a new speculative favorite in Kodak - CNBC - July 31st, 2020
- Tesla of Thailand Mulls Hydropower Plants to Balance EV Risks - Bloomberg - July 31st, 2020
- Stocks making the biggest moves midday: 3M, McDonald's, Tesla, Eastman Kodak and more - CNBC - July 31st, 2020
- Stocks making the biggest moves midday: Advanced Micro Devices, Tesla, Intel & more - CNBC - July 31st, 2020
- Amazon And Tesla Versus 885 Cheap Stocks - Forbes - July 31st, 2020
- Tesla is 2 years ahead of the industry in critical areas, Audi CEO says - Electrek.co - July 30th, 2020
- Lucid unveils its driver-assist plan to compete with Teslas Autopilot - Electrek.co - July 30th, 2020
- Behind Teslas Profits - Forbes - July 29th, 2020
- The 400% Tesla Rally Was Only The Beginning Of The EV Boom - OilPrice.com - July 29th, 2020
- Jamie Foxx Uses All the Swears in a Tesla Test Drive - Autoweek - July 29th, 2020
- Tesla could reap benefits of truly exciting glassy metal battery research - The Driven - July 29th, 2020
- Here are the biggest analyst calls of the day: Shopify, Tesla, Alphabet & more - CNBC - July 29th, 2020
- Opinion: Tesla is defying the laws of brand-building - AdAge.com - July 29th, 2020
- Check Out This Tesla-Powered Electric Van Project: Behind The Scenes - InsideEVs - July 29th, 2020
- Audi CEO: Tesla is 'two years ahead' of the curve - CarAdvice - July 29th, 2020
- First look at Elon Musks personal Tesla Model S with prototype color - Electrek.co - July 28th, 2020
- How Tesla defined a new era for the global auto industry - Reuters - July 28th, 2020
- Last Tesla Roadster ever built listed for more than $2 million - CarAdvice - July 28th, 2020
- The Tesla Model Y Made In Germany Will Be Quite Different - The Drive - July 28th, 2020
- What Are EV Regulatory Credits And Why Is Tesla Selling So Many Of Them? - Yahoo Finance - July 28th, 2020
- Options traders bet Tesla's earnings report will add $75 billion to the stock's market cap - CNBC - July 28th, 2020
- Huston-Tillotson University announces partnership with Tesla on learning initiatives, programs for students - KXAN.com - July 28th, 2020
- Tesla and Microsoft Earnings Will Move the Market - Barron's - July 28th, 2020
- Will The German Car Giants Ever Catch Tesla? - Forbes - July 28th, 2020
- Tesla On A 'Hiring Spree' In China As It Readies For Model Y Production: Report - Benzinga - July 28th, 2020
- Watch Out, Tesla: BMW Is Racing Ahead With Its Electric Vehicle Plans - The Motley Fool - July 28th, 2020
- Nike Taps Former Tesla Executive as Its New Diversity Chief - Bloomberg - July 28th, 2020
- Tesla Van With Camping & SpaceX Packages Brings It All Together Could It Replace Your Home? - CleanTechnica - July 28th, 2020
- Is Now The Time To Short Tesla's Stock? - Benzinga - July 28th, 2020
- Tesla Model Prices, Photos, News, Reviews and Videos ... - July 27th, 2020
- People Called Us Tesla Biased For Years. Perhaps We Just Analyzed The Story Decently? - CleanTechnica - July 27th, 2020
- Texas Matters: Pandemic Politics And The Tesla Effect On Texas - Texas Public Radio - July 27th, 2020
- Charting Tesla, Apple, and Netflix. - TheStreet - July 27th, 2020
- 'Radioactive' and 'Tesla' celebrate science through the lens of its pioneers - CNN - July 27th, 2020