Tesla Employees in New York Are Looking to Unionize The group of employees started a union drive with Workers United Upstate New York.

By Gabrielle Bienasz

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Workers at a Tesla factory in Buffalo, New York, announced on Tuesday they intend to form a union.

"The group wants to form a union "that looks to be as innovative as the company we work for," the group, Tesla Workers United, said in a statement posted online.

The group posted online in order to garner more support internally for the effort, as The New York Times noted. It will be organized with Workers United Upstate New York.

Now that the Tesla group has announced publicly, they will make overtures to coworkers to obtain support (via signed cards). If they can get 30% of workers to say they want a union, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will hold an election. This leads to a certification process if successful. Employers can also voluntarily recognize a union.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has previously expressed disagreements with unionization. Per CNBC, the NLRB ordered Tesla to hire back a union proponent it had fired and for Musk to remove a Tweet attacking unions ("why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?" the Tweet said). The NLRB in August also said it was not lawful for Tesla to prevent workers from wearing shirts with a union logo, over an issue that had begun in 2017.

The factory in Buffalo is called Gigafactory 2 and makes solar and battery products.

There have not been any successful unionization efforts at Tesla factories — distinct from other automakers, Bloomberg noted. One example is Ford, which has unionized workers through UAW (full name: The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America) one of the biggest unions in the country.

The group is looking to "have a real voice in setting organization policies, staffing levels, rights on the job, health and safety conditions, protections from unfair firings or unfair discipline, seniority rights, leaves of absence rights, and benefits," according to its FAQ.

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Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

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