The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Tesla, the Electric Bully of the 21st Century

Oct 16, 2017

In September, Tesla workers filed complaints that the Tesla management threatened to fire workers who wanted to unionize at its auto plant in Fremont, California. The Tesla management also prohibited workers from discussing their safety concerns and interrogated them about their union organizing efforts. Some workers were physically threatened.

Toyota and GM jointly built the Fremont plant before shutting it down in 2010. The same Toyota-GM workers are now working for Tesla. But their wages and work conditions are much worse than before.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, admitted in an email sent to the workers that the average annual pay for Tesla workers who started in January 2013 is about $39,000, or less than $19 an hour. According to Musk, the corresponding hourly wage at General Motors is nearly $24. Tesla production worker Hai Nguyen says he earned $32 an hour under Toyota-GM joint venture after working there nine years, according to Los Angeles Times. Now he collects $18 an hour at Tesla after four and a half years, although his Tesla work is not that different.

Workers manufacture Tesla’s electric cars under dangerous conditions. Ambulances have been called more than 100 times since 2014 for workers experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing and chest pains, according to incident reports obtained by the Guardian.

“We had an associate on my line, he just kept working, kept working, kept working, next thing you know - he just fell on the ground,” said Tesla worker Mikey Catura. “Everything feels like the future but us,” added Richard Ortiz, another production worker.

Musk conceded his workers had been “having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs.”

But, undeterred by these substandard wages and dangerous work conditions he admits, Elon Musk wrote pretentiously to his workers that Tesla is “one of the great companies of the 21st century.”

Yes, these 21st century futuristic cars are for the rich–and these 19th century work conditions are for the workers!