There’s some interesting drama swirling around Tesla today. A short while ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to a somewhat balanced critique of the company levied by someone claiming to be a current production line employee. In case you missed it, a Tesla employee named Jose Moran published an article on Medium airing a number of grievance about the work environment at Tesla’s main plant in Fremont, California.
“Preventable injuries happen often,” Moran writes. “In addition to long working hours, machinery is often not ergonomically compatible with our bodies. There is too much twisting and turning and extra physical movement to do jobs that could be simplified if workers’ input were welcomed. Add a shortage of manpower and a constant push to work faster to meet production goals, and injuries are bound to happen.”
On top of that, Moran relays that he’s heard similar complaints from employees at other divisions within Tesla. Still, Moran claims that a culture of fear often prevents affected employees from speaking up and demanding improvements.
Working conditions aside, Moran also argues that Tesla line workers are grossly underpaid, raking in anywhere from $17 to $21 an hour, significantly below the $25.58/hr average enjoyed by the average auto worker in the U.S.
All told, Moran believes that management at Tesla has been willfully ignoring growing discontent among workers on the production line for far too long.
I’m glad that someone is standing up for Tesla workers, and we need to stand up for ourselves too. The issues go much deeper than just fair pay. Injuries, poor morale, unfair promotions, high turnover, and other issues aren’t just bad for workers — they also impact the quality and speed of production. They can’t be resolved without workers having a voice and being included in the process.
Addressing these complaints head-on, Elon Musk wasted no time responding to all of the aforementioned allegations via a private Twitter exchange with Gizmodo.
With respect to pay, for example, Musk relayed that the starting pay at Tesla is higher than it is for individuals in the United Automobile Workers union. Musk further added that “total compensation is higher for a given level of seniority when factoring in stock grants.”
But here’s where the story truly takes a spectacular turn. Musk told Gizmodo that Moran is nothing more than a shill sent to work for Tesla under a directive from the UAW.
“Our understanding,” Musk said, “is that this guy was paid by the UAW to join Tesla and agitate for a union. He doesn’t really work for us, he works for the UAW.
“Frankly, I find this attack to be morally outrageous,” Musk continued. “Tesla is the last car company left in California, because costs are so high. The UAW killed NUMMI and abandoned the workers at our Fremont plant in 2010. They have no leg to stand on.”