Tesla Will Not Dodge Unions in Its German Factory: Workers Are Already Organizing

Tesla Giga Gruenheide 9 photos
Photo: Tesla
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Tesla is notoriously averse to unions. It has already been condemned for illegally fighting unionizing efforts, such as in Richard Ortiz’s case. Elon Musk was also ordered to erase a 2018 tweet asking “why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?” Tesla followed the same strategy in Germany, but it did not work. Giga Grünheide will be unionized.
That’s what Reuters reported after learning some of the factory’s first employees are organizing a works council. And they already have their demands. Tesla offers a 20% lower wage than that collectively bargained by IG Metall in exchange for stock options. The workers will probably try to revert that.

Although it is positive that Tesla employees want to discuss working conditions with the company, this also leads to an interesting discussion regarding the role of unions. At this point, Tesla has hired about 2,000 people of the 12,000 Giga Grünheide should employ. All those who are already working there have accepted the conditions offered by the EV maker.

If they were not happy with them, they were free to try to work for other companies with better payment strategies. In a way, accepting them and trying to change them with strikes or other means afterward does not seem to be a fair way to deal with the situation. Refusing the job would be more effective: that would force Tesla to improve its offer to attract more people. Considering the factory's slow hiring pace, that’s probably also happening there.

With so few employees, the works council election will still demand more time to happen. Despite that, the fact that the hired employees already plan to do so shows that Tesla will either have to put up dealing with IG Metall or find somewhere else to have its factory. With no permanent permit for Giga Grünheide so far, that would not be far-fetched if the factory was not so advanced already. At its current stage, the first hypothesis seems the most likely one.
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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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