Tesla fired over a dozen employees at a New York plant a day after the workers announced plans to unionize, organizers said in a filing with the National Labor Relations Board.
The complaint accuses Tesla of unlawfully firing 18 employees at the Buffalo, New York factory “in retaliation for union activity and to discourage union activity.” As a result, Workers United, the union representing Buffalo employees, is asking the labor board for an injunction to overturn the firings.
The Buffalo factory which manufactures solar panels and clean energy storage systems has nearly 800 employees, according to Tesla’s website. Tesla did not immediately return a request for comment.
Tesla Workers United said in a release emailed to Manufacturing Dive that over 30 employees were fired. “These firings are unacceptable,” the group said. “The expectations required of us are unfair, unattainable, ambiguous and ever changing.”
The same day some workers recieved termination notices, Tesla sent out an email on a new policy prohibiting the recording of workplace meetings without all participants’ consent, according to the release. Tesla Workers United argues that the policy violates federal labor law and New York’s one-party consent law to record conversations.
Tesla has previously faced complaints of taking measures to stamp out unionization efforts. In 2021, the NLRB found Tesla had illegally fired a union organizer at its car factory in Fremont, California, and threatened employees with the loss of their stock options if they joined a union.
Organizing committee member Arian Berek said in a statement that she was “blind sided” by her termination, which came shortly after she returned to work following a leave of absence.
“I returned to work, was told I was exceeding expectations and then Wednesday came along,” Berek said. “I strongly feel this is in retaliation to the committee announcement and it’s shameful.”