Tesla assures all is well with its factory workers

All's well at the Tesla factory, says Tesla.
Image: Mason Trinca for The Washington Post via Getty Images

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.

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.

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.”

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

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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