Former Tesla Employee Says Fremont Is a "Modern-Day Industrial Sweatshop"

On December 25, 2020, Pingwest published an article that said Tesla’s Giga Shanghai was a “Giga-Sweatshop.” Tesla sued Pingwest and was sued back by the Chinese outlet, who said it stood up to what it wrote. If Tesla follows the same logic, it will take the same measures against Dennis Duran, who accused the Tesla Fremont factory of being a “modern-day industrial sweatshop” in a video published by More Perfect Union.
Tesla Fremont Is a Modern-Day Sweatshop, Says Dennis Duran 8 photos
Photo: More Perfect Union
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In that video, Duran said that he worked for Tesla for five years until he found a better job. He repeated some of the accusations Richard Ortiz made in a short documentary about the working conditions at the Fremont plant. Ortiz was fired for trying to unionize Tesla’s plant. NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) ordered the company to reinstate him, but Tesla has appealed the decision.

According to Duran, he saw people throwing up for not drinking enough water, working more hours than they should, and even a worker having his leg ran over on the production line. In orientation, all he heard was that Tesla was a fantastic place to work. When he actually started working in wet sand at the paint shop, he was told they didn’t know when he would get a day off. That meant they could work 8 or 10 days straight.

Working in wet sand is not an easy task, but Duran said he had to do that 12 hours a day with no job rotation. On his fourth day, he said he woke up with a cramp in his arm and that the maximum anyone should work on such a task was 8 hours. At this point, the video mentions that the injury rate in Fremont was 102% above the automotive industry average in 2015 and 82.5% in 2016.

In 2018, Tesla said it was a safer place to work than its competitors but Reveal said it did not lower the number of injuries: it would have just underreported them. Cal-OSHA opened a probe about that and released in 2020 that Tesla omitted hundreds of injuries in the factory.

The Pingwest article makes very similar claims about Giga Shanghai as those made about Fremont. According to the Chinese news, the pressure to achieve higher production numbers made Tesla lower its quality control, and many workers give up on the company. If that is a subject that interests you, we recommend that you read it in full.

Tesla has sued Pingwest, accusing the article of being outrageous. Pingwest stood by what it wrote, said it could prove every word, and countersued Tesla. Meanwhile, Tesla has promised Jörg Steinbach – the minister for Economic Affairs, Labour, and Energy of the State of Brandenburg – that Giga Grünheide will “comply with all labor laws, such as allowing a works council to form.”

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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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