No current talks with Tesla over potential union vote – UAW President

Tesla hands over the first cars produced in the new plant in Grünheide
Model Y cars are pictured during the opening ceremony of the new Tesla Gigafactory for electric cars in Gruenheide, Germany, March 22, 2022. Patrick Pleul/Pool via REUTERS

March 29, 2022

By Joseph White and David Shepardson

(Reuters) – United Auto Workers (UAW) President Ray Curry said on Tuesday he had not held talks with Tesla or its CEO Elon Musk about a possible union vote by workers at the electric carmaker’s California factory.

On March 3, Musk tweeted that he invited the “UAW to hold a union vote at will. Tesla will do nothing to stop them.”

During an online press event, Curry said Tesla could drop an appeal against a US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that it violated US labor laws and “reinstate some workers who were actually terminated.”

“That would be a good faith attempt if they were interested in this type of exchange,” Curry added.

“We would definitely welcome this opportunity,” Curry said. “It’s not the whim of a tweet or anything else … it’s about the workers at these locations having a voice within their workplace.”

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Curry also said he is in ongoing discussions with Detroit’s big three automakers about joint-venture battery plants and the union’s potential to represent workers.

“They haven’t made any final decisions,” Curry said, noting that they haven’t started production yet. “Our ultimate goal for the joint ventures is to ensure that the sites that supply components to (UAW-represented auto plants) are represented by the UAW.

Curry wants General Motors to ensure Ford Motor Co and Stellantis “a level playing field” for organizing efforts. “Card reviews, neutrality and other things are clearly on the table for these discussions,” Curry said.

The union boss said the UAW also wants to organize auto workers at startups, saying the goal is “to be able to represent any auto plant meeting that would take place in the country, especially electric vehicle parts.”

Last year, the NLRB directed Tesla to order Musk to delete a 2018 tweet that said employees would lose their stock options if they formed a union.

Musk has repeatedly heaped criticism of the UAW. On Tuesday, he tweeted, “UAW slogan – ‘Fight for the right to embezzle autoworkers’ money!'”

Musk was referring to a local UAW official’s guilty plea to embezzling $2.2 million in union funds.

Curry said the union passed significant reforms and it was its auditors who found the wrongdoing and referred the matter to federal prosecutors, which led to the guilty plea.

Curry, who became president last summer after his predecessor retired a year before the end of his term, said he plans to run for a new term as president later this year.

(Reporting by Joseph White and David Shepardson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot) No current talks with Tesla over potential union vote – UAW President


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