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Buffalo workers launch drive to become 1st Tesla union

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Workers in Buffalo, New York announced a drive to establish the first Tesla union./AFP
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Feb 15, 2023 - 02:48 AM

NEW YORK — A group of workers at Tesla’s Buffalo, New York plant announced a campaign Tuesday to form the first union at Elon Musk’s electric car company.

The group, calling itself Tesla Workers United, established a website where workers could fill in union e-cards, a first step in gathering signatures to potentially qualify for holding a union election.

The initiative comes as workers and unions target large companies including Apple and Amazon for labor organizing drives, encountering mixed results thus far.

The Tesla campaign is affiliated with the same union that launched Starbucks Workers United in Buffalo, which became the first US cafe under the chain to vote to form a union.

“Tesla has demonstrated that as a company, it stands out among the rest in the industry,” the group said on its website.

“We are organizing a union, with Workers United Upstate New York, that looks to be as innovative as the company we work for and to build an even more collaborative environment that will strengthen the company,” the group added.

Tesla employs about 800 workers at its “Gigafactory 2” in Buffalo, where it manufacturers solar cells and components for Tesla electric car chargers and energy storage products, according to the company’s website.

Like other leading figures associated with Silicon Valley, Musk is known for resisting union drives.

In 2021, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that the electric car company had illegally fired a worker for organizing at Tesla’s California plant and that Musk had illegally threatened workers with loss of stock options if they unionized.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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