Coming together for a safer Tesla on Workers’ Memorial Day

I believe in Tesla’s mission, and I’m proud to be building the cars of the future. I feel very strongly that moving us away from fossil fuels and towards a cleaner planet is something we must do for our children.

People may think of Tesla – the world’s largest maker of electric vehicles – as a tech company, but building cars takes a lot of physical work. The truth is that Tesla has had serious health and safety problems, and frontline workers like myself have been impacted by them in dangerous ways. In 2015, Tesla’s injury rate was higher than that of sawmills and slaughterhouses. That same year, the rate of serious injuries was more than double the industry rate.

I see a lot of the hard, repetitive labour that my co-workers do for eight or even 12 hours per shift. Most of my work involves moving parts around with a forklift or tugger, but a lot is done by hand.

I’ve worked in highly efficient plants, and one thing they have in common is a culture of continuous improvement. For that culture to take hold, workers must have a real voice in the process.

At Tesla, it seems to me that far too often the culture is just about pushing people to work faster and longer, not smarter. About a year ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told the press we were in for six months of “production hell” to begin building the Model 3.

Recently, it has started to come to light how many workers are getting seriously injured inside the plant. I worry we cannot meet our ambitious production goals without even more people getting hurt.

My co-workers and I have been trying to engage with the company for a long time to fix safety problems and have our ideas heard. But when I was on the safety committee, my suggestions weren’t a priority.

Yet I’m hopeful for change because workers are coming together to form a union at Tesla. Even in the face of intimidation and anti-union pressure, many workers are raising issues about health and safety and other issues we’re facing.

I love working at Tesla because it is about the future of our economy and our environment. Working together, we can help the company realise its vision, and make Tesla a place where every worker has a future as well.