UAW Claims Tesla Firings Violated Federal Labor Law

FREMONT (CBS SF) — The United Auto Workers International Union has filed unfair labor practice charges against Tesla, claiming the Bay Area-based automaker has illegally fired pro-union employees.

The charges come less than a week after it was disclosed the automaker had fired hundreds of workers after completing its annual performance reviews even though the company was trying to ramp up production to meet the demand for its new Model 3 sedan.

The filing laid out six charges including intimidating and harassing employees, terminating a group of employees to discourage protected concerted activity, disciplining employees for wearing items with the Union’s logo and terminating and/or disciplining employees in retaliation for participating in protected concerted activities.

The UAW said several pro-union employees who had been laid off have come forward with copies of their performance reports, which show no areas of concern.

“I worked hard for this company for five years, sometimes 72 hours a week – and never had any performance-related complaints,” said Mike Williams, who was let go for ‘performance issues’ and for having a ‘negative influence’ on his teammates. “I did, however, wear a union shirt. And I had union stickers on my water bottle.”

The company has yet to issue a response to the charges.

The company confirmed the cuts, but didn’t disclose how many of its 33,000 workers were jettisoned. The San Jose Mercury News interviewed multiple former and current Tesla employees who estimated 400 to 700 workers lost their jobs.

The housecleaning swept out workers in administrative and sales jobs, in addition to Tesla’s manufacturing operations.

An unspecified number of workers received bonuses and promotions following their reviews, according to the company.

Tesla is under pressure to deliver its Model 3 sedan to a waiting list of more than 450,000 customers. The company so far has been lagging its own production targets after making just 260 of the vehicles in its last quarter.

Including other models, Tesla expects to make about 100,000 cars this year. CEO Elon Musk is aiming to increase production by five-fold next year, a goal that probably will have to be met to support Tesla’s market value of $59 billion — more than Ford Motor Co.

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