USA: Tesla faces federal labour board complaint over alleged interference with workers' right to unionise

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Article
6 August 2018

Former Tesla employees accuse co. of antigay harassment, age discrimination & failure to pay wages in lawsuit

Author: Trudy Ring, The Advocate

"Blockbuster Suit Against Tesla Alleges Antigay Harassment and More", 1 August 2018

 

Three former employees of Tesla’s energy sales division have filed a lawsuit alleging antigay harassment, age discrimination, failure to pay them for all hours worked, and retaliation for complaining about working conditions and fake sales accounts created by other employees... In the suit (...) one of the employees, Andrew Staples (...) alleges that he was subjected to repeated antigay harassment by a supervisor from another department... Staples says he complained to numerous managers, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, but no disciplinary action was taken... Ray, who was terminated last year at age 59, alleges age discrimination, also banned by California law... Both men and a third plaintiff, Anqunetta White, say they complained to the company about “fake potential sales accounts” created by other employees... Their termination by the company was retaliation for their complaints, they say... Regarding the lawsuit (...) a Tesla spokesperson provided The Advocate with the following statement: “The plaintiffs’ roles were eliminated last year when, as part of Tesla’s integration with SolarCity, we decided to close our door-to-door sales channel for energy products, and the suggestion that they were eliminated for any other reason is false. Tesla is absolutely against any form of discrimination, harassment, or unfair treatment of any kind by or against anyone. After examining the timecards of applicable employees, Human Resources confirmed that employees were paid properly and invited them to submit a list of unpaid hours if they disagreed, so we could review it and confirm proper payment. The one hourly plaintiff never identified any hours for which she was not paid.”

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Article
29 September 2017

The dark side of electric cars: Exploitative labour practices

Author: Mark Dummett, Time (US)

...[S]ome electric cars are not, currently, as ethically “clean” as manufacturers would have us believe. [A key component of the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries on which electric cars run is cobalt.] Amnesty International’s research has shown that cobalt mined by children and adults in extremely hazardous conditions could be entering the supply chains of some of the world’s largest carmakers... More than half of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)... 

So, what should these companies be doing?... According to [OECD] guidelines, electric car manufacturers and battery makers should be able to say who their [cobalt] smelters or refiners [from high-risk areas like the DRC] are, and should make public their own assessment of whether the smelter’s due diligence practices are adequate in identifying and addressing human rights risks and abuses. We have contacted many of the largest companies and, not a single car manufacturer told us they had actually done this... The electric car industry must understand that transparency of human rights risks abuses arising in their supply chains is the way forward...

We need to phase out fossil fuels, and electric cars are an integral part of a greener future. But as electric car manufacturers move to the forefront of the market, they need to drastically improve their practices and take steps to ensure that their role in the energy revolution is truly clean and fair... [refers to Apple, HP, Huawei, Huayou Cobalt, Sony, Samsung SDI]

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Article
4 September 2017

Federal labour officials are going after Tesla over alleged workers' rights violations

Author: Danielle Muoio, Business Insider (UK)

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed an official complaint against Tesla, saying the company violated workers' rights by suppressing their unionization efforts. Tesla will have to submit an answer to the charges on or before September 14 and appear at a hearing before an NLRB administrative law judge in Oakland, California, that will begin November 14.

The United Auto Workers, a labor union, and three Tesla employees submitted separate complaints in April claiming the company had coerced employees trying to aid a unionization effort into silence. The NLRB said it has found merit to the charges and filed them into one official complaint.

The complaint says Tesla forced employees to sign a restrictive confidentiality agreement that prevented them from organizing or discussing their work conditions. It also claims some Tesla security guards and human-resources employees intimidated factory workers who were trying to pass out leaflets regarding the union organizing efforts and asked them to leave the premises...

"These allegations, which have been filed by the same contingent of union organizers who have been so outspoken with media, are entirely without merit," a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement. "We will obviously be responding as part of the NLRB process.”... [includes full company statement]

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Article
4 September 2017

Tesla faces labour board complaint alleging interference with unionisation

Author: Megan Geuss, Ars Technica (UK)

On Thursday evening, a federal labor board filed a complaint against Tesla, alleging that the electric vehicle company had discouraged workers from distributing pro-union information, stopped them from talking about employee safety to the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, and in one case, prevented an employee from taking a picture of the Confidentiality Agreement they had to sign.

The Oakland, California-based regional office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) consolidated the complaints of three former Tesla employees, Michael Sanchez, Jonathan Galescu, and Richard Ortiz, as well as complaints made by UAW. Tesla and the NLRB will appear at a hearing in November before an administrative law judge...

The company called the complaint "entirely without merit" and said that UAW advocates have put out misleading and false information and have made "unsolicited and unwelcomed" visits to the homes of Tesla employees. [includes full NLRB complaint]

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