Tesla fires dozens of employees at Giga New York after unionization effort

Tesla has fired dozens of employees at Gigafactory New York after a new unionization effort was launched this week, according to a new complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board.

As we reported earlier this week, workers at Gigafactory New York, where now almost a thousand workers perform data annotation for Tesla’s Autopilot and self-driving efforts, announced their intent to unionize.

The effort started with the data labelers who want better pay, job security, and less tracking at work, and it is supported by Workers United, which is known for having unionized workers at hundreds of Starbucks stores.

They also plan to add the ~1,000 manufacturing workers at Gigafactory New York in Buffalo to the unionization effort.

After they announced the union push on Tuesday, Tesla has reportedly fired dozens of employees at the plant – including several who were linked to the unionization effort, according to a complaint filed by Workers United with the US National Labor Relations Board.

Bloomberg reports on the complaint:

In a filing with the US National Labor Relations Board, the union Workers United accused Tesla of illegally terminating the employees “in retaliation for union activity and to discourage union activity.” The union asked the labor board to seek a federal court injunction “to prevent irreparable destruction of employee rights resulting from Tesla’s unlawful conduct.”

Jaz Brisack, a Workers United organizer working on the Tesla union drive at Giga New York, commented on the terminations:

“This is a form of collective retaliation against the group of workers that started this organizing effort. The terminations are designed to terrify everyone about potential consequences of them organizing, as well as to attempt to cull the herd.”

Arian Berek, a Tesla employee who was one of the organizers and was among those terminated Wednesday, commented:

“I feel blindsided. I got COVID and was out of the office, then I had to take a bereavement leave. I returned to work, was told I was exceeding expectations and then Wednesday came along.”

While they claim that the firings are illegal, the union organizers at Gigafactory New York claim that they are helping the effort.

Sara Costantino, a Tesla worker on the Autopilot team at Giga New York and a member of the union organizing committee, commented:

“It’s pretty clear the message they’re sending. They’re trying to scare us. And it’s really I think backfiring on them. It has really opened people’s eyes to the fact that this is why we need a union.”

It’s not the first time that Tesla has been in trouble with the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and specifically for firing people related to union drives.

In 2021, NLRB ruled that Tesla violated labor laws by firing an employee over what they claimed was union support and because of a tweet in which Elon Musk stated that unionized employees would lose their stock options as part of their compensation package.

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