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Tesla accused of firing pro-union workers at Buffalo solar plant
Updated On: Jun 25, 2019

A union alleges that Tesla fired some workers at its Buffalo solar products plant because of their pro-union stance and that the company in at least one case tried to interfere with a worker's efforts to find another job.

A few additional details were revealed in a document released by the National Labor Relations Board in response to a Freedom of Information Law request by The Buffalo News. The NLRB is investigating the charge, which was filed June 19.

The Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers union, one of two unions attempting to organize workers at the South Buffalo plant, filed the charge last week. The two unions launched their drive last December.

A partially redacted document released by the NLRB omits the names of the workers who allegedly were fired in retaliation for supporting the union. It appears the allegation involves as many as six workers.

The document also says the union alleges that Tesla "intentionally interfered" with efforts by at least one person to secure another job, in "retaliation" for "outspoken union support." The document does not provide further details, nor does it identify how many workers were the target of the alleged interference in seeking another job.

Tesla has called the unfair labor practice charge "without merit" and said it will respond as part of the NLRB's process. The Steelworkers union did not respond to requests to comment on the case.

Tesla on Jan. 18 announced it would cut about 3,000 jobs companywide. It was believed Tesla cut nearly 50 jobs at the Buffalo plant. Tesla said last month that it had 329 full-time employees at the South Park Avenue factory, which was built and partially equipped with $750 million in state funding through the Buffalo Billion.

In denying the release of the names of workers and other documents related to the case, the NLRB cited exemptions to the Freedom of Information Law, including the release of records that would "constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." The NLRB also said it withheld some records because they are part of an open investigation.

The Steelworkers union has said some Tesla workers approached the union about joining, which led the Steelworkers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to launch their joint campaign.


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