“We are tired of being treated like robots”

Workers at the Autopilot division of Tesla in Buffalo, New York, they launched a unionization drive that, if successful, would create the first union at Elon Musk’s electric car maker.

Bloombergquoted in a report on the website of Ars Technica, reported on the union campaign after speaking with several Tesla workers at the Buffalo facility: “Workers at the plant told Bloomberg News that Tesla monitors keystrokes to track how much time employees spend per task and how much time of the day they spend actively working. This leads some to avoid taking bathroom breaks, six employees said.

Tesla workers want higher wages, better job security, more say in workplace decisions, and limits on “monitoring, metrics, and production pressure.”

“People are tired of being treated like robots. We are in such a hurry to do things that I don’t know if it’s really well thought out. It’s just, ‘let’s get this out as fast as we can,’” said Al Celli, a member of the union’s organizing committee.

The Buffalo plant has more than 800 Autopilot analysts with a starting salary of about $19 an hour. Employees are reportedly “in non-engineering roles contributing to the development of Tesla’s automated driving.”

Is unionization possible?

Tesla workers are coordinating with the Service Employees International Union affiliate, workers unitedto be able to unionize, something that CEO Elon Musk does not look favorably on.

In August 2022, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Tesla violated US labor law by implicitly barring employees from wearing union-insignia T-shirts at its Fremont, California, factory. The board ordered Tesla to remove the shirt ban and notify workers that it violated labor law.

The website The union campaigner said workers are calling on Tesla to “refrain from threatening or retaliating against workers for organizing, agree to a fast and fair electoral process, and give the union equal time to hold meetings or release information.”

“We are paid much less than the national average for our work and have almost no sick leave. We’re just asking for a seat in the car we helped build,” organizer Keenan Lasch said in a statement cited by CBSNews.