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Tesla Accused Of Anti-Union Policies At Buffalo Plant

Tesla logo on Tesla showroom

Feds are scrutinizing Tesla for allegedly implementing policies that could restrict unionization efforts at its Buffalo, New York, facility. 

Linda Leslie, the National Labor Relations Board’s Buffalo regional director, filed the complaint on Tuesday, May 7.

The complaint, revealed through a Freedom of Information Act request by CNBC, alleges that Tesla enforced an "acceptable use" policy on workplace technology in 2023.

She claims this was specifically designed to discourage union activities among employees.

This policy reportedly prohibited Tesla employees from unauthorized recording, solicitation, promotion, and the creation of communication channels and distribution lists. 

These restrictions, the NLRB argues, potentially interfere with employees' rights under the National Labor Relations Act. 

This federal law ensures workers' rights to discuss unionization, join unions, and engage in collective bargaining for improved working conditions and pay.

The Tesla Buffalo site is primarily tasked with solar panel production.

It has recently shifted focus towards assembling electric vehicle charging equipment and hosting an AI software data labeling team. 

The factory also saw job cuts as part of Tesla's broader restructuring efforts due to a downturn in electric vehicle sales. 

A recent WARN notice indicated that Tesla is laying off 285 employees, primarily at the Buffalo location, as part of a larger global reduction in workforce.

Tesla's history with unions has been fraught with tension. 

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CEO Elon Musk has publicly clashed with union advocates.

The company was also found guilty of violating labor laws in 2021.  

This included the wrongful termination of a union activist and a controversial tweet from Musk in 2018, which was perceived as anti-union. 

Despite being ordered to delete the tweet, it remains visible on Musk’s X account, followed by more than 182.7 million people.

The challenges with labor relations extend beyond the US. 

Tesla service technicians initiated a strike last year in Sweden, seeking a collective bargaining agreement. 

The strike continues, although some authorized work is occasionally permitted.

Tesla has yet to comment on the recent NLRB complaint.

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