Auto Workers Union Calls Out Elon Musk for Worker Pay and Greed

The president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), Shawn Fain, criticized Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other CEOs for their high pay and the financial struggles of workers. Fain stated that workers in companies like Tesla are barely getting by, while CEOs like Musk continue to amass wealth and build rocket ships.

Fain’s comments came in response to statements from Ford Motor, General Motors, and Stellantis, collectively known as the “Big Three,” warning that the UAW’s demands would worsen the cost gap between unionized and non-unionized car companies. Ford specifically pointed out that meeting the UAW’s demands would double its labor costs, already significantly higher than those of Tesla and other foreign-owned automakers in the United States that utilize non-union labor.

In defense of the UAW’s demands, Fain argued that labor costs make up only 5% of a vehicle’s overall cost. He stated that automakers could double the wages of workers without raising vehicle prices and still make billions in profits. Fain also criticized the wages at companies like Tesla, calling them “pitiful.”

Representative Debbie Dingell also voiced concerns about worker pay at Tesla, highlighting the discrepancy in wages and the affordability of Tesla cars for most people. However, Dingell suggested that a win for the UAW could benefit non-unionized workers as well.

The UAW began a targeted strike at three plants in Missouri, Ohio, and Michigan. The union is seeking a mid-30% wage increase over the lifespan of the new contract, along with other benefits such as a shorter work week and expanded benefits for plants working on electric vehicles. The UAW is aiming to regain ground lost after the 2008 auto bailout, which resulted in significant sacrifices from workers.

The UAW has long attempted to organize workers at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, California but has been unsuccessful. The union accused Tesla of illegally interfering in organizing efforts after CEO Elon Musk’s tweet questioning why workers would join the UAW and give up stock options. Industry data suggests that Tesla employees earn about a third less than their unionized counterparts at other auto plants. Tesla employees earn $45 an hour in wages and benefits, while unionized workers can make up to $66 an hour.

Despite the ongoing negotiations, the UAW and the Big Three automakers remain far apart in their positions.