Tesla fires employees who wanted a union

At the Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York, dozens of workers who recently spoke out in favor of a union were summarily fired. Unlawful retaliation by Elon Musk?

About 30 employees from the Tesla plant in Buffalo in the US state sent an email to company boss Elon Musk and announced that they wanted to set up an employee representative body. They were released without notice just a day later. Now the injured parties want to obtain an injunction against the termination via the independent association "Tesla Worker United". Tesla itself, on the other hand, speaks of performance-based terminations.

At the Buffalo plant, around 800 Tesla employees are working on further developing the autopilot. Tesla has repeatedly increased the work pressure and recently even monitored the keystrokes on computers, according to some employees. Some employees didn't even dare to take a toilet break. In addition to higher wages, the organization in a union should also achieve better working conditions and more say.

Targeted against unions and works councils

Unions, works councils, strict working hours law - in Germany employees of large companies enjoy a lot of rights. In the USA it is different. Especially the big names like Starbucks, Amazon or Tesla make no secret of their aversion to organized labor rights. So does Elon Musk, whose companies have questionable working conditions.

Musk publicly threatened Tesla employees back in 2018 that they would lose their stock options if they unionized. To date, there is no Tesla employee representation in the United States. But again and again there are efforts to organize in a trade union. Apparently, the company is trying to nip them in the bud with terminations without notice and intimidate other employees in this way.

Works council in the Gigafactory Berlin

In Berlin, too, the group is fighting against majorities who want to join IG Metall, for example. With this, Tesla is going its own way among German car manufacturers and has therefore had to put up with a lot of criticism. Unlike in the USA, Elon Musk had to have a works council elected in Germany. The Grünheide site chose him for the opening of the plant in 2022.

So far, the works council has not belonged to any union and is more closely related to plant management. It was only in January that the current works council complained in a letter to employees about IG Metall. The union tries to launch bad moods in the plant to the press. Due to the rapid growth in employees at the Giga Factory Berlin, the works council will have to be re-elected next year.


Tesla is attracting attention with a wave of layoffs at the Buffalo/New York plant. A group of around 30 employees wanted to organize themselves in a union and were dismissed without notice a day later. You can also hear about working conditions in need of improvement from other plants such as the Gigafactory Berlin.


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