Several employees at a Tesla gigafactory in Buffalo, New York have been fired after launching union organizing efforts two days ago, according to Tesla Workers United.
The group said in a statement on Thursday that workers received an email around 7 p.m. EST on Wednesday updating them on a new policy that prohibits them from recording workplace meetings without all participants’ permission. TWU said that the policy violates federal labor law and flouts New York’s one-party consent law to record conversations.
The Tesla plant, which makes solar panels and other renewable energy technology, is not far away from a Starbucks location where workers voted to unionize last year.
TWU said that the firings were unacceptable and that the expectations placed on Tesla workers are “unfair, unattainable, ambiguous and ever changing.”
“We’re angry. This won’t slow us down. This won’t stop us. They want us to be scared, but I think they just started a stampede. We can do this. But I believe we will do this,” Sara Costantino, a current Tesla employee and organizing committee member, said in a statement.
The Rochester Regional Joint Board of Workers United has filed a complaint against Tesla with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the electric vehicle maker of unfair labor practices.
As part of union organizing efforts, the Tesla Workers United organizing committee said in a letter to management Tuesday that employees are seeking a voice on the job at the plant in Buffalo and want to “build an even more collaborative environment that will strengthen the company.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken a hard line against organized labor, despite an invitation to the United Auto Workers union to hold an organizing vote at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California. In 2021 Tesla was ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to make Musk delete a 2018 tweet in which it said that he unlawfully threatened employees with loss of stock options if they chose to be represented by the UAW.
An email was sent to Tesla seeking comment, but it has been widely reported that Tesla has disbanded its media relations team.