Tesla announced on Wednesday that it had laid off 4% of the Autopilot labeling team in Buffalo as part of a six-month performance assessment cycle.
The automaker reacted to a union complaint filed with a government body stating that the company fired dozens of employees from its Autopilot department at its Buffalo, New York, plant a day after workers launched a unionization campaign.
In an attempt to dissuade unionization, the firm refuted all allegations, claiming that the employees were laid off owing to poor performance. Furthermore, it stated that the impacted employees were identified on Feb. 3, before the announcement of the union campaign.
“We became aware of organizing activities approximately ten days later,” the company said, adding that the layoffs predated any union campaign.
Tesla employees in New York announced earlier this week that they would unionize with Workers United Upstate New York, giving them a voice at work.
The Workers United Upstate New York union accused the world’s most valuable automaker of retaliating against union action in a filing with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) earlier on Wednesday.
According to the union, the company fired more than 30 people, and the workers also received an email with an updated policy prohibiting them from recording workplace meetings without the approval of all participants.
“This policy violates federal labor law and flouts New York’s one-party consent law to record conversations.”
Elon Musk has already been vocal in his opposition to unions, stating in a 2018 tweet that employees would lose their stock options if they formed a union, prompting the NLRB to request that he delete the tweet.