State of California Gets into Tesla vs UAW Conflict

By Evan Henerson

Things are heating up in the land of Musk and unions are partially responsible.

The state of California is willing to give Tesla and other environmentally conscious automakers $1.5 billion to spend in cap-and-trade money, but only if the state labor secretary certifies these companies as being “fair and responsible in the treatment of their workers.” Rebates funds are critical since they help shave thousands of dollars off the sticker price of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and the soon to be released Tesla Model 3. 

This newly inserted provision could present a problem for Tesla since the United Auto Workers is in the midst of trying to organize thousands of workers at the company’s Fremont plant in the wake of charges of intimidation against the company. The National Labor Relations Board has filed numerous complaints against Tesla. Nissan – manufacturer of the Leaf – has also been the subject of unfair labor practice allegations.

From an account in the “Sacramento Bee:”

“Clean vehicle rebates have helped put more than 100,000 vehicles on the road. Tesla buyers are eligible for rebates of up to $2,500, but that perk could be imperiled by the legislation’s worker-treatment language.

In a letter Tuesday to Governor Jerry Brown, the Association of Global Automakers said the proposal creates “an unpredictable standard that would be impossible to adhere to in an already challenging market.

“We believe this language presents several constitutional, legal and enforceability concerns but, more importantly, is counterproductive to building a sustainable market for zero emission vehicles in California,” wrote Damon Shelby Porter, the association’s director of state government affairs.”

The trouble with Tesla goes back several months and includes allegations of long hours, too frequent injuries, mandatory overtime and attempts by the company to intimidate union organizing. Back in February, a pro-union worker named Jose Moran wrote an e-mail. Company CEO Elon Musk blew his gasket and wrote a point-by-point rebuttal in a company e-mail. He claims he has slept on the factory floor in a show of solidarity.

Read more here.

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