UAW Confused About Path to Organizing Tesla Factory Workers

As discussed previously, the UAW has Tesla in its crosshairs. One of the major themes of the organizing drive focuses on alleged safety problems at the factory. While the Company dismissed the reports as propaganda, it vowed to become the safest auto factory in the world.

Undeterred, the Tesla Workers’ Organizing Committee sent a list of demands to Tesla’s board of directors. Some of the demands include:

  • Transparent third-party safety audits
  • Employee involvement in the company’s safety plan
  • Ability to review accurate data about progress toward improved safety.

The demands didn’t stick to just safety, though. My favorite part: employees have endured years of a “vague promises of a raise” that never came to fruition. “We care deeply about both the company’s profitability and our own financial needs and thus have an important perspective on how to balance those concerns.”

So UAW, which is it? What’s your theme? Safety or more money? Here’s some unsolicited advice: stick with safety if you want community support. It’s easier for people without a dog in your fight to back your plight for a safe work environment. Bring up more money if you want to seem like ancient, greedy unions of yore. The bad publicity you’ll get whining about wanting more money from a company that has not yet turned a profit will doom your campaign.

Matt Austin owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can reach Matt by calling him at (614) 285-5342 or emailing him at