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The Cybertruck is now officially in production at Tesla’s “Gigafactory” in Austin, Texas. It is not union built. In fact the National Labor Relations Board has repeatedly charged Elon Musk (Tesla’s CEO) for illegal “anti-unionizing” activities.

Tesla employs 120,000 workers around the globe. In the U.S. it has factories in Fremont, California; Austin, Texas; Sparks, Nevada; and Buffalo, New York. Unlike most car companies, Tesla offers its manufacturing workers stock options in the company. They must work for four years before they can begin receiving Tesla stock.

Elon Musk likes to say that certain workers even became millionaires. This is plausible because Tesla stock experienced an unprecedented explosion after the startup IPOed. In 2022, Tesla stock plummeted 65%, but has bounced back significantly.

In 2018, Elon Musk tweeted that employees would lose their stock options if they unionized. Later, the NLRB ruled that such a tweet was a form of anti-union intimidation. It required he delete it.

Elon Musk in tuxedo
Elon Musk hamming it up | Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty

The truth is that Tesla couldn’t legally revoke stock options for employees who have already earned them just because they are seeking to unionize. If Musk chose to restructure the benefits of a post-union Tesla, he could theoretically move away from employee stock options. But doing so could risk a strike.

The United States is actually a relatively difficult country in which to start a union. First of all, 30% of a factory’s workers must sign union cards before the NLRB can even get involved. Then the Board can oversee negotiations and a company vote on whether to unionize. This initial process can take years.

Tesla has tried everything to avoid hitting that 30% number. At one point, it prohibited employees from wearing any sort of union logos or insignias. The NLRB has also repeated cited Musk for interrogating employees over union efforts, disciplining them, and discriminating against them in other ways. He has broken up at least three worker-led efforts to unionize Tesla. And those are just the ones we know about.

Hear why Elon Musk thinks unions create a distasteful, “lords and peasants” situation within a company in the video below:

Earlier this year, Tesla fired 30 employees from its Buffalo plant. It claimed they were all fired over performance. But these 30 employees had just announced they were forming a union.

Workers at Detroit’s Big Three make an average of $66-$71 every hour in combined wages and benefits, depending on the company. Tesla workers average $55.

Shawn Fain, United Autoworkers Union President, has set his sights on Tesla. And the reason why is obvious: as more electric vehicle companies grow, the UAW’s percentage of U.S. auto industry workers is shrinking.

“Most of these workers in those companies are scraping to get by so that greedy CEOs and greedy people like Elon Musk can build more rocket ships and shoot into outer space…And that’s unacceptable.”

Shawn Fain, UAW President

Tesla is pioneering an all new “unboxed” assembly process in Austin. It will likely use a massive press to form the entire underbody of its next vehicle in a single piece. This technology is poised to revolutionize manufacturing. After Austin, Musk plans to duplicate the process at his Mexico plant. Once he does this, a strike would be much less harmful to his company. So if his workers want to unionize, they had better hurry.

Next, see why Scandinavian unions are striking against Tesla in Europe in this final video: