Tesla fired at least 18 employees, including several leaders of a unionization campaign, a day after they announced plans to organize a Tesla plant in Buffalo, workers said in a filing to the National Labor Relations Board.
Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, has been blunt in his opposition to unions, and the company has a reputation for using hardball tactics against union organizers. In 2021, the National Labor Relations Board found that Tesla had illegally fired a worker involved in organizing at the company’s car factory in Fremont, Calif., and that Mr. Musk had illegally threatened workers with the loss of stock options if they unionized.
“I strongly feel this is in retaliation to the committee announcement and it’s shameful,” Arian Berek, a member of the Buffalo organizing committee, said in a statement. Ms. Berek said she was fired after returning to work after a bout with Covid-19 and bereavement leave.
The Rochester branch of the Workers United union, in a “charge against employer” dated Wednesday, told the labor relations board that it sought an injunction to block the firings, which it called unlawful. Tesla “terminated these individuals in retaliation for union activity and to discourage union activity,” the filing said. The firings were reported earlier by Bloomberg News.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Buffalo factory makes solar panels and components for charging equipment, according to Tesla’s website, and has about 800 workers who help develop driver-assistance software.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.