United Auto Workers (UAW) President Ray Curry said on Tuesday he has had no discussions with Tesla or its Chief Executive Elon Musk about a potential union vote by workers at the electric-car maker's California factory. On March 3, Musk tweeted that he was inviting the "UAW to hold a union vote at their convenience. Tesla will do nothing to stop them."
During an online press event, Curry said Tesla could drop an appeal of a U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that it violated U.S. labor law and "reinstate some workers who were actually terminated." "That would be a good faith effort if they were interested in having that type of exchange," Curry added.
"We definitely would welcome that opportunity," Curry said. "It's not the whim of a tweet or anything else... it's about the workers in those locations having a voice inside of their workplace." Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
Curry also said he is engaged in ongoing discussions with Detroit's Big Three automakers about joint venture battery plants and the potential for the union to represent workers. "Those have not generated final decisions," Curry said, noting that they have not started production. "Our No. 1 goal for the joint ventures is to make sure that those locations that are supplying components to (UAW represented auto plants) are represented" by the UAW.
Curry wants General Motors Ford Motor Co and Stellantis to ensure a "level playing field" for organizing efforts. "Card checks, neutrality and other things are clearly on the table for those discussions," Curry said. The union chief said the UAW also wants to organize autoworkers at start-ups, saying the goal is to "be able to represent any auto work assembly that would take place in the country, especially EV pieces."
Last year, the NLRB ordered Tesla to direct Musk to delete a 2018 tweet saying employees would lose their stock options if they formed a union. Musk has repeatedly heaped criticism on the UAW. On Tuesday, he tweeted: "UAW slogan – 'Fighting for the right to embezzle money from auto workers!'"
Musk was referring to the guilty plea of a UAW local official to embezzling $2.2 million in union funds. Curry said the union had adopted significant reforms and that it was its auditors who had found the wrongdoing and referred the issue to federal prosecutors that led to the guilty plea.
Curry, who became president last summer after his predecessor retired a year before his term ended, said he plans to run for a new term as president later this year.
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