Tesla Plant Buffalo

Tesla Plant Buffalo by Buffaboy (CC BY-SA)

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If Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn't too busy fussing with Twitter, he might want to open his mail. Some 800 workers who develop software for Tesla's autopilot technology in Buffalo, New York, sent him a letter advising of their intent to unionize. The group is asking for better pay, job security, and a less stressful work environment.

The employee requests aren't surprising given what some of them told Bloomberg News. Workers said the company monitors computer keystrokes to determine how long employees spend on tasks and how much of the day they spend working, leading some staff to skip bathroom breaks.

“People are tired of being treated like robots,” one of the employees seeking to organize told Bloomberg.

GalleryBig-Name Companies Where Workers Are Fighting To Unionize

Tesla also shut down a chatroom where workers could vent about dislikes, such as how the company handles snow days. The workers launched a topically themed way of driving a pro-union vote on Feb. 14, handing out Valentine's Day-themed fliers at the plant with links to a website where employees can sign union cards. 

Musk may want to be worried. The pro-union employees are working with Service Employees International Union affiliate Workers United, which has unionized hundreds of Starbucks cafes in the U.S. 

The workers' union organizing effort isn't the only problem for Musk having to do with the autopilot function on Tesla cars. The technology has been the focus of many lawsuits and blamed for numerous deaths and crashes and has caught the attention of the Department of Justice.


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