Tesla’s ongoing feud with the United Automobile Workers has reached a tipping point.
The UAW filed six charges of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday. In the filing, Tesla is accused of intimidating and harassing employees, as well as disciplining and/or terminating workers who were in favor of unionizing.
The UAW’s filing came after Tesla laid off hundreds of employees — between 500 and 700, according to The Mercury News — citing performance issues as the reason for the firings. Many of the individuals who were let go, though, such as Mike Williams and Richard Ortiz, reportedly have brought their performance reports to the UAW to refute Tesla’s justification.
“I worked hard for this company for five years, sometimes 72 hours a week — and never had any performance-related complaints,” Williams said in a statement. “I did, however, wear a union shirt. And I had union stickers on my water bottle. And I believed that a union would make us safer, and would make the company more organized and more efficient.”
Although Williams said he would “hate to think” that his pro-union stance was the reason he was fired, other former employees have no doubt they were targeted for that reason.
“I’ve worked in auto manufacturing my whole life,” Ortiz said. “I do not believe — not for a second — that I was fired for cause.”
Workers at the EV manufacturer’s Fremont, Calif., factory have been trying to unionize for months, resulting in a heated mudslinging battle between Tesla and the UAW. In February, a Tesla employee wrote a blog post accusing the company of overworking and underpaying its staff, prompting CEO Elon Musk to accuse the individual of being paid by the UAW.
Thumbnail photo via Tesla