Fired Tesla Workers Discover They Were Replaced With Cheap Temp Labor

Tyler Durden's picture

Just last week, amid their Model 3 "production hell," Tesla shocked the auto world with news that they would be firing hundreds of workers.  Of course, firing seasoned production staff is somewhat atypical for a 'growing' company (shrinking cash flow aside) that was already having difficulty meeting their own production schedule.  Of course, the irony was apparently 'lost' on Tesla who tried to dismiss the mass firings as "performance-based terminations."  Per Capital and Main:

Tesla announced the firings, which are reportedly still continuing, last week. Though no official number of terminations would be given, estimates range from 400 to 1,200. The company did not give advance notice under the WARN Act because, it insisted, they were performance-based terminations, not layoffs. “Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved during the performance period,” said a Tesla spokesperson in an emailed statement. “As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures.”

As it turns out, we're not the only ones who were surprised by Tesla's mass termination event as laid off workers are now coming forward to say the decision was nothing more than an attempt to break up unionization efforts at the company's Fremont, CA plant and replace seasoned employees with cheap, temporary contract labor.

Those are the questions the labor organizing campaign at Tesla is asking, after the company issued a wave of terminations, allegedly linked to performance issues among its 33,000 employees. Several members of the campaign, known as A Fair Future at Tesla, were among those fired, and they all claim to have had excellent performance records. None have been able to obtain the negative reviews that were supposed to be the rationale for their firing.


The terminations struck many as strange. Tesla wants to ramp up production of the highly anticipated Model 3, a more affordable electric vehicle. CEO Elon Musk set a goal of 20,000 completed cars per month by this December. But in the third quarter of 2017 Tesla finished just 260. Musk has cited “production bottlenecks” for the poor output. But firing workers and retraining replacements seems a hindrance to, not an improvement on, this goal. Also, Tesla fashions itself a high-growth company, and mass terminations aren’t something high-growth companies do. Furthermore, fired employees claim they never had the kind of review that would explain the terminations. “I had great performance reviews. I don’t believe I was fired for performance,” said Daniel Grant, a production associate at the plant for three years. Grant claims he was injured on the job on a Friday, and fired the following Monday. “The company didn’t show me or others our most recent reviews when they fired us.”


Other production workers say their performance reviews were stellar but were dismissed after speaking out about "low pay, hazardous working conditions and a culture of intimidation at the Fremont plant."

Only when you understand Tesla’s labor issues does a more plausible explanation emerge. For months, Grant and other Tesla workers have spoken out about low pay, hazardous working conditions and a culture of intimidation at the Fremont plant. They have sought to affiliate with the United Auto Workers to win a voice on the job. While Tesla said that most of the exits were in administrative and sales jobs, at least some of them hit the factory floor. And many of these pro-union workers were among those fired, according to the Fair Future at Tesla campaign. That includes Grant, who said he wore union T-shirts on “Union Shirt Friday,” addressed safety issues in employee meetings and handed out informational fliers to colleagues.


Pro-union workers criticized the Model 3 ramp-up in August, saying that Tesla skipped test runs for the assembly line and predicting the company would likely institute forced overtime to keep on track. Both issues could lead to more injuries, the workers claimed. Grant believes that vocalizing these types of concerns about safety cost him his job.

Meanwhile, local advertisements imply that Tesla is seeking contract laborers who will start at much lower hourly rates and not receive health know the benefits that Silicon Valley elites like Elon Musk demand that other companies must provide.

But a number of job fair listings spotted throughout the Bay Area suggest that Tesla will be replacing pro-union voices with contract labor. One such listing, through the temp agency Balanced Staffing, touts “hiring on the spot” for “a manufacture [sic] of electric cars in Fremont!!!” There are no auto facilities in that city other than Tesla. The listing says workers will make $18 to $20 an hour doing “repetitive motion” tasks, and that applicants “must be able to work 12 hour shifts.” The site of the job fair, in Modesto, is at least a two-hour drive from Fremont (the listing promises free shuttle service).


A similar Balanced Staffing listing on Craigslist for an event in Stockton, also a two-hour drive, again offers $18 an hour and says workers “must be open to any shift.” The entry-level wage is lower than what terminated workers with three and four years of service were making at the plant. Contracted work from a third party also likely means no benefits, certainly not the stock options offered Tesla employees. In addition to lower costs, independent contractors would be far less likely to join organizing campaigns.


It certainly appears that Tesla is attempting to increase Model 3 production with a temp labor force, while weeding out longer-tenured employees, at least some of whom were vocal about unionizing the plant.

Finally, the irony is that just as Musk is firing employees in the U.S., he offered 30% raises to workers in Germany...

Soon after Tesla fired hundreds of workers at its plant in Fremont, California, it managed to settle a problem with its German staff that could have been far, far worse. Things got off to a bad start when the boss of Grohmann resigned shortly after the takeover, and workers threatened to strike. They complained that once Tesla was their sole client—they used to supply a variety of automakers—they would face job insecurity. On top of that, they said they were getting paid 30% less than union rates.


Tesla will reportedly ramp up wages by about 30% and safeguard jobs till 2022. The previous offer of $10,000 in Tesla stock has also reportedly been accepted. “We have developed our own remuneration structure in very pragmatic discussions,” Uwe Herzig, the head of the workers’ council at Tesla Grohmann Automation, told Die Welt (link in German).

...a tricky situation which we anticipate might just draw the attention of a frequent tweet stormer in Washington D.C. who loves to speak out about unfair treatment of American workers...

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A. Boaty's picture

Mixed news for those who hate both workers and EVs.

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

Replacement workers don't speak English and are illegally working/voting as well.

Escrava Isaura's picture

I think Elon is reading Zero Hedge.

He’s finally using the capitalist free market approach that the conservatives applaud in standing ovation.


CheapBastard's picture

"But Obama said I could vote five times."

MagicHandPuppet's picture

I watched a few presentations by Tesla system engineers as well as some videos of people who work there - and they seriously drank the Tesla kool aid. I wonder how many of those poor schmucks got shit canned.

Escrava Isaura's picture

Believing is the essence of religion and capitalism. If you question any of these you are signing your death sentence.


HominyTwin's picture

And socialists are as lucid and level-headed as carpenters. No evangelism involved in socialism at all. "Millions dead, billions impoverished, and still WE BELIEVE."

jcaz's picture

Ahh, the smell of desperation in the air.....  Elon knows he needs to float another piece of shit junk bond stat, but he realizes that it will crush the price of the stock-   "Oh I know-  I'll cut labor costs!"  True genius at work, I just marvel at him......   BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Donald J. Trump's picture

I'm shocked Tesla is cutting any costs.  I thought they were making money hand over fist.  I have never seen a unicorn do this before. Utterly shocked.

Whoa Dammit's picture

12 hour shifts, 4 hour round trip commute, no benefits. What's not to love about being a worker in the USSA?

Blue Steel 309's picture

Socialism and Capitalism are both imperfect systems that can and will be exploited by oligarchs.

Any system requires the right controls. Since the oligarchs usually write the rules, they both fail eventually.

And to those capitalist apologists who say "oh it wasn't muh capitalism that failed, it was the mixing in on socialism", I say you are a moron. The 'socialism' you are referring to is the inevitable result of any system that can be easily manipulated by the oligarchs. In other words, the system failed, because it was a flawed system.

No system is perfect, but some are more perfect than others. I believe you find those very words in a preamble somewhere.

The Federalist worked in enough weaknesses into the Constitution to sow the seeds of the demise of capitalism in America. Some of them knew what they were doing. Definitely Hamilton, and Jefferson, and I am not sure if Madison was a dupe or a slick piece of work, just as some examples.

SWRichmond's picture

Shut up, serf, and get back to work.

No, you can't have any guns.  Got it?

Escrava Isaura's picture

Sorry, I beg to differ.

If we had socialism, where the workers own the means of production, unlikely the workers would be as dumb as in our current capitalist system, because the workers would have to think outside of their labor.

Don’t take my word for it. Adam Smith warned us about this conundrum back in 1776.

Wealth of Nations - 1776 - Adam Smith, page 603.

The understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.

But in every improved and civilised society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it. 


Now on the Constitution my read is very different than yours.  America has being working pretty steadily as planned by the Constitution. Remarkable well.



jcaz's picture

Thanks for proving once again that you ARE the dumbest motherfucker on this board, Beaner-  truly laughable that you spend time on your drivel......

Now go drop some fries for me,  chop-chop.

Liberty2012's picture

It’s not an either-or. Workers can own the means of production - it’s called a partnership. Many workers don’t want the responsibility that comes with ownership.

Also, in that same passage, Adam Smith points out that the teachers should not be paid mainly by the state, or they will soon neglect their duties.

The key is the balance in society. Individual choice is necessary. So is a certain amount of common interests and goals.

No individual should be forced to adhere to a group, and neither should a group be forced to accept every individual.

ScratInTheHat's picture

Putting Hamilton and Jefferson in the same league or the same side just shows you know nothing!


“Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt!”



No that is not FN Lincoln! That ass was made a saint because he killed a lot of people and died in the end. The saying is much older than that clown!


Hamilton and Jefferson were diametrically opposed to one another. Somoen doesnt fucking know what they are talking about

Kidbuck's picture

kidbuck was once hired to work at the GM proving ground in Arizona. The job consisted of driving new cars around a track until they failed. Then, writing a report as to what failed and why. The job paid something like $10.00 per hour, no benefits, no holidays off, no holiday pay, and of course no union. Guess what quality of education and relevant experience these workers had. Guess how much effort the workers put into writing their reports. Guess why GM quality control sucked.

gilhgvc's picture

oh bullshit, you don't even know a conservative and this is NOT free market....

Kidbuck's picture

12 hour shifts are counter productive. No one, short of an olympic class athlete, can sustain hard work for more than 8 hour shifts. On a 12 hour shift either the workers pace themselves and do 8 hours work more slowly to fill the 12 hours or they do shitty quality work, particularly after several days of 12 hour shifts.

swmnguy's picture

I was thinking that too.  This is great news for those who hate American workers, calling them lazy and greedy and opposing workplace safety standards and wanting to keep employment a one-way street in Feudal fashion.  Except those people hate Tesla and anthing that reduces dependence on carbon-based fuels.

It's kind of a dilemma for them; what's more important to them?  Neo-feudal corporatism, or clinging to rapidly-obsolescing fuels and technologies?  What do they hate more, people getting paid for their work and having a say in the workplace and organization on par with their employers, or new technology that isn't already owned by the Oligarchs they want to curry favor with?

Decisions, decisions.

All in all, until the next generation of electric batteries comes out, I'll stick with very small and economical gas-powered cars.  And living near where I work and shop and recreate, so I can use bike or public transportation and drive very little anyway.  When I need a larger vehicle for various reasons I can rent one and not have to own it for the other 360 days of the year.

Kidbuck's picture

Tesla reduces dependence on carbon based fuels like welfare checks are free money. The electricity used to charge them is simply created out of thin air.

curbjob's picture

Does Apple have similar labor problems at their California plant when they attempt to roll out new technology  ?


... oh wait

Ntoxic8ingWave's picture

As much as Elon has produced some great technologies, he has taken advantage of the taxpayer in order to do so, and continues to this day, even after the advancements that have been made. This just goes to show that consumers arent interested in the technology if it costs an entire year's salary to pay for it...

not dead yet's picture

Care to enlighten us on Elon's new technologies. If you did your homework instead of listening to propaganda from the Elon can walk on water true believers you would know those technologies were from vendors not Tesla.

LawsofPhysics's picture

nothing personal, it's just business.

Now, fuck you, pay me!

Bernie Madolf's picture

Employee departure?

Fuck you, Pay me!

dogismycopilot's picture

You cannot find this on Vimeo even by searching. Why not?

Free on Infowars

SEE THE GROUNDBREAKING FILM THAT EXPOSES HOLLYWOOD PEDOPHILIA The secret Hollywood doesn’t want you to know – posted here absolutely free for the victims and to stop future crimes

yarpos's picture

maybe because its not posted there,  what has that got to do with Tesla?

CanadaGoose's picture

The Leftist Tesla Gulag .... business as usuall!

Nature_Boy_Wooooo's picture

As long as they are hiring American and building in America I have no issues with this.

not dead yet's picture

Get back to us when it happens to you.

Nature_Boy_Wooooo's picture

I'm self employed so I am not dependent on someone else creating opportunities for me.

If you are productive you won't be on the list to get canned.......if you are the proactively show up to work and stand around all day type you should join the union.


Green2Delta's picture

The parking lot appears to be full of conventional combustion engine vehicles? Why isn't everyone driving an EV or a horse and buggy? Or better yet they should take Elon's tube thing to work

yarpos's picture

who can afford an EV at $20 hr? 

Dun_Dulind's picture

Globalization is just another form of incurable cancer.

TheMexican's picture

Really who gives a shit?  Musk can do whatever he wants within the law.  If you don't like it find another job or start your own business you crying pussies.

He may be subsidized up the yin yang and be doing all other types of shit i do not agree with, but really STFU and figue out a way to get out of the crying routine.

gilhgvc's picture

right...until they do it to YOU at YOUR job.

CheapBastard's picture

"If you want to keep your job......"

TheMexican's picture

It ain't happening to me because i choose never to work for anyone else.

Believe me starting business is very hard and you loose but when you succeed it is like nothing else.

I stopped blaming other people for my losses many years ago.  Blaming other people is no way to go through life.

Essentially this is exactly what this article is. Blame blame blame blame, it his fault, it their fault.


jcaz's picture

Sorry- you're Mexican- you're incapable of working for yourself- lawn care doesn't count;

You guys do decent concrete work tho-  when you're not sitting in jail after a bender.......

Vimes's picture

Random discrimination doesn't help your point. Could say the same about Americans building cars, which they can't because they're white. 

shovelhead's picture

Putting on spinner rims and a 12" subwoofer is not building a car.

Kidbuck's picture

Be it Yellen or Musk if they stick their hand in my pocket uninvited they are a fucking thief.

Utopia Planitia's picture

Many people do just that, but certainly not everybody.  I have been shitcanned (because a project was cancelled, not because of performance) numerous times.  I have a wide variety of skills and have worked in a plethora of settings that have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

I have structured my financial life so that if an employer decides to get rid of me tomorrow I DO NOT GIVE A SH%T. I know (from experience) i can have another job as fast as I want one.

Many people (not all) do not put any effort into structuring their financial life so that they have options.  Then, when the SHTF the rest of us are supposed to bawl and wail because they now find themselves in an unfavorable position.

People who end up like that have CHOSEN their destiny.  They are people who are only capable of learing the hard way.  I also learned some things the hard way, but I am also a very, very fast learner.  Many believe they are somehow exempt from learning anything.  And hence they SELECT their destiny.

I have many friends who have been down the same path, so I also know it is possible for anybody to learn this lesson.

Are you ready to PAY for all these people you think should never be laid off / fired?  Until you are willing (and able) to do so I suggest you keep your mouth shut.  Or go move to a communist country and see how you like that.

not dead yet's picture

Easy to say if you're older. What if you're just starting out and have a family. You're uppity I'm superior to you rant smacks of someone living in their parents basement waiting for them to die and leave you everything. You remind of people who get jobs because they are great bullshitters and move on to the next job before the current employer realizes he got conned into hiring an incompetent blowhard.

TheMexican's picture

I assum the down voted are from people waiting for handouts and free shit.

How is that working for you?

not dead yet's picture

Nah, they know a bullshit artist when they see one.

Disgruntled Goat's picture

Pointing out corruption and crony capitalism is not crying. Why do you feel you need to be Musks apologist?