The Tesla corporate logo is pictured at a Tesla electric car dealership in Sydney, Australia. | Photo: Reuters
A workers’ committee said Tesla had a safety record worse than that of “sawmills and slaughter houses.”
A group of Tesla workers sent a letter to the company’s board Monday asking for a plan to address employee safety and information on pay and promotion.
The move came three days after Tesla launched its much-awaited Model 3 sedans, the company’s product aimed at the mass market.
The Tesla Organizing Workers’ Committee, which hopes to unionize the electric automaker’s factory in Fremont, California, said Tesla had a safety record worse than that of “sawmills and slaughter houses.”
“Accidents happen every day. Severe incidents frequently impact morale and cause delays in production,” the committee said. “We are losing great workers … recovering from preventable injuries.”
The group of workers asked Tesla to inform employees of the risks associated with working at the factory, make safety audits readily available, and allow Fremont workers to have a voice in the company’s safety plan.
Workers also asked for clarity around Tesla’s compensation practices and how workers can get promoted at Tesla.
Starting pay at Tesla’s Fremont, California auto factory is US$18 per hour, far below the national average for auto workers, the group said.
“There are no guidelines for what is expected of us, or what defines success,” the letter said, noting there is “a great deal of workforce turnover due to the financial insecurity.”
Tesla was not immediately available for comment but Chief Executive Elon Musk said last week that the company is going to go through at least six months of “manufacturing hell” as it ramps up its efforts to produce its new sedan, which Tesla is counting on to become a profitable electric car.
Tesla has promised to boost total car production to 500,000 vehicles next year, close to six times its 2016 output, a target that many auto industry experts believe is unrealistic.