Last month, the United Auto Workers (UAW) expressed desire to unionize the Tesla Factory in Fremont, CA, as the company plans to go big with its target of producing half a million vehicles by 2018. Now, the organization has started reaching out to Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) Fremont factory employees as it aims to organize the workforce, according to Automotive News.
Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer at UAW, told Automotive News that the labor union is supporting workers and is in talks with interested individuals to check how their interest develops. However, it is yet to make an official announcement. Mr. Casteel said that UAW usually contacts workers to determine interest before organizing them, as it’s the workers, not the institution, who require an entity to safeguard their rights.
The Fremont factory, with roughly 6,000 workers, is Tesla’s sole manufacturing facility in the US which is not unionized. When the plant was owned by New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), a joint venture between Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) through the 1984-2010 period. During this time, UAW represented the plant’s workers.
Center for Automotive Research’s Industry Labor & Economics Group Director, Kristin Dziczek, stated that the union typically allocates staff to a factory when it is certain regarding substantial unionization support. However, there is no report if the union has started assigning staff to the Fremont factory.
A Tesla spokesperson said that the company is “focused on ensuring that its employees are always treated fairly” and was not willing to give any further comments on the matter. Mr. Casteel’s comments come merely a week after a rally by the affiliates of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada outside Tesla’s shareholder meeting due to its hiring process at the Gigafactory. A month ago, The Mercury News claimed that a Tesla subcontractor hired a Slovenian worker to build a paint shop in Fremont for just $5 per hour. However, Mr. Musk later clarified that the subcontractor paid $55 per hour.