SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – The National Labor Relations Board hit Tesla with a complaint Thursday night, creating a headache for the largest electric vehicle manufacturer just days before the United States celebrates workers on Labor Day.
The complaint says Elon Musk’s celebrated technology and auto-manufacturing company has been routinely harassing and intimidating employees trying to create a union for workers who’ve voiced concerns about overwork and employee safety at the Fremont, California, Tesla plant.
Tesla strongly refuted the labor relations board’s allegations in a statement released Thursday night, saying the United Auto Workers’ “publicity campaign” against Tesla has more to do with flagging membership and influence than any substantive problems at the Fremont plant.
“As we approach Labor Day weekend, there’s a certain irony in just how far the UAW has strayed from the original mission of the American labor movement, which once advocated so nobly for the rights of workers and is the reason we recognize this important holiday,” Tesla said in a statement through a company spokesman.
However, multiple reports show three workers claim they handled dangerous chemicals without appropriate safety measures, and those claims are separate from the complaints filed with the labor relations board on Thursday.
According to documents filed with the board in April, Tesla stopped an employee from distributing flyers relating to the possibility of unionizing, saying only company-approved literature could be distributed on grounds.
The complaint also states employees were “coerced” into a confidentiality agreement intent on preventing union organization.
Four separate incidents of harassment or intimidation occurred from Nov. 5, 2106 to March 23, 2017, according to board documents.
Tesla said this has all been engineered by United Auto Workers, which is concerned about its waning influence and the threat Tesla poses to traditional automakers.
“Faced with declining membership, an overwhelming loss at a Nissan plant earlier this month, corruption charges that were recently leveled against union leaders who misused UAW funds, and failure to gain traction with our employees, it’s no surprise the union is feeling pressured to continue its publicity campaign against Tesla,” the company said in a statement.
A hearing on the complaint is set for Nov. 14 in San Francisco.