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Tesla Gigafactory Construction Workers Allege Unsafe Conditions, Wage Theft

The facility opened last April.

Tesla broke ground on its gigafactory in Austin, Texas, two years ago and opened the facility last April. According to the automaker’s website, the facility that covers 2,500 acres and features 10 million square feet of factory floor serves as a manufacturing hub for Model Y and, perhaps, eventually, the Cybertruck. 

As Tesla goes on to say on the gigafactory’s page, a facility of this magnitude needs “purpose-built facilities unlike any that currently exist.” 

That text appears under the “construction” section of the page along with the phrase, “Our construction team is reimagining what a factory can be.”

However, The Guardian reports members of that construction team will file a complaint and case referral with the Department of Labor that alleges exploitative work conditions that exposed them to wage theft and injuries. 

One worker hired to perform carpentry at the gigafactory claimed the boss of an unnamed subcontractor gave him fake, digital OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 certificates despite not providing any training. 

The same worker, Victor, who requested his last name be withheld for fear of retaliation, added that his team was told to work on the factory’s roof at night without lights. On another occasion, Victor said his team was instructed to continue production on a flooded floor with live wiring and cords in the water. 

During the interview, Victor recalled telling his wife, “I’m going to die in this factory.”

Other workers said they did not receive any pay for work performed, overtime pay or the proper overtime rate. The same complaint includes an allegation that workers did not receive a promised non-discretionary double pay bonus if they worked on a holiday weekend. 

Tesla did not comment on the report. But a staff attorney for a nonprofit organization assisting the workers said, “Tesla didn’t seem interested in using their power to ensure everyone was able to go home without injuries, with all the money that they’re owed in their pockets.”

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