Tesla assures it’s not anti-union despite Musk’s tweets
All's well at the Tesla factory, says Tesla.
All’s well at the Tesla factory, says Tesla.

Image: Mason Trinca for The Washington Post via Getty Images

2016%2f10%2f18%2f6f%2f2016101865slbw.6b8ca.6b5d9By Sasha Lekach

Finally, Tesla has a response. 

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the head of the Democratic National Committee, wrote to Elon Musk’s electric car company two months ago concerned about union busting and worker safety.

SEE ALSO: Tesla is the latest Silicon Valley company to run smack into human limits

This week, Tesla decided to respond to Ellison’s concerns and doubled down on the health of Tesla’s employee-management relationship. Everything is honky-dory at Tesla according to Tesla.

Tesla and Elon Musk responded today to the letter Rep. Ellison sent asking questions about safety and allegations of union busting. Here’s the letter Elon sent: pic.twitter.com/lrGoPz5WKA

— Caroline O’Donovan (@ceodonovan) August 1, 2018

Back in May, Ellison wrote that he found Musk’s tweets “troubling” in that they seemed to state or imply that employees will lose job-related benefits. Musk had tweeted that workers are welcome to join unions but he didn’t understand why they would and give up stock options. The letter in response said Musk understands “the fundamental right of Tesla workers to organize.”

Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets healthcare.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 21, 2018

A few days later Musk tweeted about unions again. (The UAW is the United Automobile Workers labor union.) 

No, UAW does that. They want divisiveness & enforcement of 2 class “lords & commoners” system. That sucks. US fought War of Independence to get *rid* of a 2 class system! Managers & workers shd be equal w easy movement either way. Managing sucks btw. Hate doing it so much.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 22, 2018

Alexandra Veitch, Tesla senior director of government relations and policy, also wrote in this week’s letter that Tesla’s equity program is unique for a car maker. 

“Mr. Musk was not threatening to take away employee stock options if they choose to join a union,” she wrote. “He was simply recognizing the fact that no UAW-represented automakers provide stock as compensation, which has particular relevance given that UAW organizers have consistently dismissed the value of Tesla equity as part of our compensation package.”

The Tesla letter went on to address workplace safety and record-keeping without mentioning a damning Reveal investigation that found Tesla was under-reporting injuries (and that Ellison brought up in his letter).

Tesla keeps stressing everything’s by the books at its factories — even as they reportedly bring out-of-state workers from Musk’s other companies to help make enough Model 3 electric sedans and set up shop in a giant tent factory at the Tesla plant in Fremont.

Tesla’s latest earnings call is Wednesday afternoon, so we’ll soon catch a glimpse of how everything’s going then.

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