Tesla Giga NY Workers Continue Union Fight Despite Terminations
Written by Simon Alvarez, Teslarati
Published Feb. 20, 2023
The week of Feb. 13, Tesla Giga New York workers who organized a unionization campaign experienced a roller coaster of emotions. The group was full of hope as they launched their campaign Feb. 14, but Feb. 15 and 16, union organizers felt deflated as Tesla issued a round of terminations on the plant’s Autopilot labeling team.
In response to the terminations, the Workers United union filed a complaint with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board accusing Tesla of striking back at unionization efforts by illegally terminating employees. Tesla denied this, explaining in a blog post the terminations at Giga New York were part of the company’s regular performance review cycle, which affects all its plants across the globe.
In a statement to The Buffalo News, however, the Tesla union organizers at Giga New York said they are not giving up the fight. Alexis Hy, who has been with the company for about a year and a half, said the terminations just made the group more determined to unionize the plant.
“We’re doing this for all of us---the employees---and then to see the retaliation and to see so many people get fired, we were all so dejected after that day. But it just makes us want to fight harder for those people and for the rest of us that are still there,” Hy said.
The Tesla Workers United organizing committee said Feb. 18 the agitation among workers at the plant gathered momentum during the November snowstorm. The storm buried parts of New York under several feet of snow, but at the time, the workers said, Tesla only advised them to use paid time off, sick time or vacation time if they were unable to report to work. Workers in the Autopilot labeling team were reportedly informed they could not work from home.
Some Giga New York workers on Feb. 18 said they felt like they were being micromanaged “down to the keystroke.” Some workers, including Hy, said bathroom breaks were skipped at times just so employees could meet their quotas. Tesla, in its blog post about the matter, denied this, noting that “there is nothing to be gained by delaying bathroom breaks” and the workers’ claims were “categorically false.”
Tesla has not issued any further comments about Giga New York’s ongoing unionization efforts.
Some who support Giga New York’s unionization like the company a lot. Lizzie McKimmie, a data annotation specialist, told the publication she enjoys working at Tesla. She just finds it stressful that there is no job security and she has to live paycheck to paycheck. “I do want what is best for my fellow employees. I love this job, and I really want to make it better,” McKimmie said.