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Cornell Expert: Tesla’s actions at Buffalo plant raise red flags

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Adam Allington

Tesla fired over 30 employees, including several leaders of a unionization campaign, a day after they announced plans to organize a Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 plant in Buffalo. In a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board, workers are accusing the electric-car maker of unfair labor practices. Tesla alleges that the terminations were part of regular job reviews.

Cathy Creighton

Director of Cornell University ILR Buffalo Co-Lab

Cathy Creighton is director of Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations Buffalo Co-Lab and a former field attorney for the NLRB.

Creighton says:

“If the NLRB finds merit to the charge, they can seek an injunction in Federal District Court seeking to reinstate the terminated workers and make them whole. At the same time, the NLRB will proceed with its administrative law process of holding a trial before a judge who will determine whether Tesla has violated the National Labor Relations Act or not.

“The Tesla plant sits on the former site of Buffalo’s Republic Steel plant. The wages and benefits that came from those jobs did not materialize out the generosity of the Steel barons, they were fought for over decades by the members of the Steelworkers Union. 

New York state gave Tesla $750 million in public money to build the plant. However, Tesla’s workers earn far less than their peers represented by the UAW. New York also didn’t require Tesla to abide by federal labor law and allow its workers to form a union and bargain collectively. 

“It is not enough to give billionaires subsidies and hope that they share the wealth with their workforce. New Yorkers should expect that jobs they are subsidizing are jobs that are well paid, with good benefits, where employees can share in their employer’s profitability.” 

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