Construction workers at Tesla’s Texas Gigafactory sue for labor violations | Tesla

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Construction workers who toiled in one of Tesla’s sprawling so-called gigafactories will file a complaint with the federal labor department on Tuesday, filing a case detailing the abusive working conditions they experienced building the facility.

Whistleblowers came forward to allege serious labor and employment violations during construction of the electric car maker’s massive new facility in New York austinTexas, leaving them vulnerable to injury and wage theft.

Amid accusations of constant dangers and accidents on the ground, a worker said his bosses forged credentials at an unnamed subcontractor instead of actually providing him and others with the necessary job training, which included education on health, safety and workers’ rights – including the right to refuse hazardous work.

Other whistleblowers report what they call wage theft, saying they were not paid at all for their work at the high-tech facility, or were not paid adequate overtime.

“Nobody deserves what happened at the Gigafactory to happen to them or their family members or whoever,” said Victor, a worker who asked the Guardian to withhold his last name for fear of retribution, in an exclusive interview via working conditions. adding: “I don’t think it was humane.”

Tesla’s 2,500-acre Austin Gigafactory has been one of the hottest build jobs in the US after the workers laid the foundation for it in 2020, As a billionaire entrepreneur and owner of Tesla, SpaceX and now Twitter, Elon Musk built a key US outpost for his automaker. From outside the project, the new plant sounded like an ideal workplace for any contractor.

The company chose a convenient location on the Colorado River near Musk’s touted Austin airport as a job opportunity for thousands where he makes them long-delayed Cybertruck electric pickup. Back in April, Musk wore sunglasses and a black cowboy hat to a “cyber rodeo” celebrates the opening of the venue.

But construction workers have painted a far less rosy portrait of the new factory, suggesting a dream job has turned into a nightmare.

On Tuesday, Victor files a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha), part of the Department of Labor, over alleged allegations fake diplomas for the required training he says never happened.

He told the Guardian so His team was ordered to work on the metal factory roof with no lights at night, work on smoking turbines without protective masks, and put themselves at risk without basic safety information.

In one instance, Victor said he and his colleagues were expected to maintain production on a flooded ground floor – despite observing power lines and cables submerged everywhere. He remembers telling his wife, “I’m going to die in this factory.”

On another occasion, Victor worked with a man so desperate for money that he returned to the job with braces after breaking his arm on the spot.

“Every day there was a security problem,” he told the Guardian.

Other workers sacrificed time with loved ones last year to keep building the factory over Thanksgiving but say they never received the promised double wage bonuses, according to Tuesday’s case referral to the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division.

In an industry as fragmented as construction, with its vast network of contractors and subcontractors, labor rights activists claim that developers like Tesla are ultimately the ones with the power and moral authority to demand fair labor standards.

But “Tesla wasn’t — didn’t seem – interested in using its power to make sure everyone could go home unharmed at the end of the day, with all the money that was owed them,” said Hannah Alexander, an attorney for the Workers Defense Project, a non-profit organization that helps construction workers.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while the Workers Defense Project did not release identifying information about the contractors and subcontractors accused of labor violations for confidentiality reasons as part of a pending investigation.

This isn’t the first time Musk’s auto company has been linked to security breaches.

In recent years, Tesla’s Fremont, California plant has far outpaced other major U.S. auto factories in terms of Osha violations over $236,000 in fines between 2014 and 2018. Likewise in his factory outside of RenoNevada, workers have sustained a number of injuries, including amputations.

By 2020, when the company was targeting Austin for another factory, allegations of lax treatment of workers’ rights were rife, and a broad coalition of labor groups, lawyers and county residents told local government that any deal had to be with Tesla implement strong worker protection measures.

But amidst close competition with others Cities also try to win Tesla’s billion dollar investment, local officials green light for a plan to lure the electric car manufacturer with tax breaks in the millions – and without the enforcement mechanisms warned by proponents are necessary.

Now some workers are dealing with the result.

“Everything we’re seeing is complicated by the fact that there’s not a lot of transparency or accountability because they chose not to include that independent monitoring element,” said David Chincanchan, policy director of the Workers Defense Project.

“In general, the state of the construction industry is in Texas tends to be a race to the bottom,” claimed Chincanchan, where exploitation of many vulnerable workers, often immigrants, is rife.

Amid Tuesday’s filings, the Austin Gigafactory is now under fire.

“Everyone’s to blame,” Victor said. “Anyone could have prevented it. Tesla could have prevented that.”

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