In a conference call to discuss Tesla’s fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, the automaker’s co-founder, billionaire and aspirational Martian Elon Musk continued to push back on reports of an ongoing unionization effort at the company’s California factory. Musk said there’s “obviously quite a strong effort” by the UAW to unionize Tesla, but he thinks it wouldn’t benefit his workers.
When asked how a successful union drive could impact Tesla’s cost structure, Musk demurred that it could even happen at the Fremont, California plant.
“The fact of the matter is,” Musk said, “over the last few months, Tesla injury rate is less than half of the industry average, contrary to allegations made. ... [Tesla employees] are the highest paid in the industry, if you include the equity, which obviously you should include.”
He went on, “There are really only disadvantages for someone to want the UAW here. I mean, the track record is worse at any other company. I don’t think this is likely to occur.”
The big news at Tesla as of late is that at least one employee claimed that the company doesn’t compensate employees well, which Musk particularly pushed back on. The employee who revealed the renewed unionization push, Jose Moran, said most Tesla workers earn between $17-$21 hourly, while the average auto worker in the U.S. earns over $25 per hour.
On the conference call, Musk said that’s plainly false. “They are the highest paid in the industry if you include the equity, which you should obviously include,” he said. This is an interesting take from Musk. As Jeremy Owens, the tech editor for Marketwatch, pointed out, Tesla subtracts stock compensation from its earning reports.
Anyway, Musk really thinks the union drive is a bad idea. “There are really only disadvantages for someone to want the UAW here,” he said. “I mean, the track record is worse at any other company. I don’t think this is likely to occur.”
Meanwhile, the company reported that it lost $219 million in the fourth quarter on $2.3 billion in revenue, according to the Los Angeles Times, and annual revenue rose 73% due to the more than 77,000 deliveries of Model S and Model X vehicles.