Tesla Fights State Rules Linking Car Rebates to Labor Practices

Tesla opposes a pending state rule that would require the manufacturer to certify its Fremont factory as a “fair and responsible workplace” for customers to qualify for a generous discount on electric cars.

The rebates—which take up to $7,000 off the price of a new plug-in battery-run or fuel-cell-powered transportation—are the centerpiece of Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to put 5 million clean energy vehicles on California roads by 2030. But the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the Air Resources Board want to withhold the incentive from companies hit with complaints about unfair labor practices.

Elon Musk’s Tesla released a 16-page letter earlier this month describing how the order would specifically undermine the company—the only large-scale carmaker in California—and prevent other manufacturers from setting up shop in the Golden State.

Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino echoed that point, saying the state’s rule—set to go into effect as early as next month—“discourages future manufacturing jobs in California by effectively holding companies that create manufacturing jobs in California to a different and higher standard.”

State lawmakers pitched the rule about a year ago as part of a state budget provision. The regulation would benefit environmental and labor groups, including the United Auto Workers as it helps workers unionize Tesla’s Tri-Valley plant.

According to Reveal News, from the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, Tesla has failed to list some serious injuries on legally mandated reports, making the company’s safety record look better than it actually is. The news outlet also reported in its multi-part investigation that employees have complained about fume-induced headaches in the factory, a toxic adhesive-damaged cornea and back spasms from long hours of reaching for boxes, among other workplace injuries.

Musk firmly denied claims that his company left safety lapses off the books. In a Twitter rant after Reveal published its findings, the CEO responded to the critical coverage by calling the Pulitzer Prize-nominated news outlet an “extremist” organization.

In April 2018, however, California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched a probe into the Bay Area car company after Reveal’s investigation unearthed information about Tesla’s undercounted injuries. The investigation is expected to take anywhere from three to six months to complete, officials said.

Just this month, Tesla workers went to the National Labor Relations Board accusing the company of interfering their efforts to unionize by preventing workers from handing out leaflets in the parking lot and stopping workers from wearing pro-union shirts on the job.

Tesla has yet to return San Jose Inside’s requests for comment.

One Comment

  1. Enough with these taxpayer funded subsidies. The heavy cars tear up the roads and the owners pay NO fuel tax. The rest of us have increased fees. Teslas travel in the HOV lanes. Enough is enough!

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