Tesla workers complain about factory safety

on Aug2

Workers assemble cars on the line at the Tesla's factory in Fremont, California.

David Butow | Corbis | Getty Images

Workers assemble cars on the line at the Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California.

It found that Tesla’s “total recordable incidence rate” was 8.8 percent (8.8 injuries per 100 workers) in 2015, the last full-year that data is available for. That’s 31 percent more than the 6.7 percent total recordable incidence rate for the automobile industry as a whole, the report found, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

That 8.8 percent injury rate is higher than the similar injury rates of both sawmills and slaughterhouses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sawmills have an injury rate of 7.3 percent and slaughterhouses have an injury rate of 5.1 to 7.3 percent, depending on the type of processing.

The issue of worker safety at Tesla manufacturing facilities is not new. Tesla factory worker Jose Moran wrote a post on Medium in February detailing the conditions and proposing a union. “We are working hard to build the world’s #1 car  —  not just electric, but overall. Unfortunately, however, I often feel like I am working for a company of the future under working conditions of the past,” Moran wrote.

“Just as CEO Elon Musk is a respected champion for green energy and innovation, I hope he can also become a champion for his employees.”

The workers say they want access to information about the dangers of the jobs they are doing, and they want a voice in the conversation about how to fix the safety issues.

Beyond safety concerns, the group wants clear guidelines on what is required to be promoted at the company. “Many of us have worked hard for years with the vague promise of a raise, to no end,” the letter states.

Pay at the Fremont production facility starts at $18 per hour, which is below both the national average for auto workers ($25.58), according to The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).

“We strongly believe that a defined understanding of success and reward will have an impact on product quality,” the letter says.

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