For two years Dezzimond Vaughn was a well-regarded worker at the Tesla factory in Lathrop, California. Then he became involved in trying to organize a union and suddenly his job was on the line. "They started changing rules without any remorse," Vaughn, a 31-year-old former Tesla computer-numeric-controlled (CNC) heavy machinery operator, told the Guardian. He cited a strict attendance policy Tesla implemented and backdated that deducted points from employees every time they clocked in late or were absent. "We started talking about forming a union, because they wouldn't be able to do the things they're doing, and they somehow found out I was having meetings at my house."
Tesla has reigned over the electric car market for over a decade, but these new autos are hoping to give Tesla a run for their money. Current and former Tesla employees working in the company's open-air "tent" factory say they were pressured to take shortcuts to hit aggressive Model 3 production goals, including making fast fixes to plastic housings with electrical tape, working through harsh conditions and skipping previously required vehicle tests. For instance, four people who worked on the assembly line say they were told by supervisors to use electrical tape to patch cracks on plastic brackets and housings, and provided photographs showing where tape was applied. They and four additional people familiar with conditions there describe working through high heat, cold temperatures at night and smoky air during last year's wildfires in Northern California. Tesla can't appeal to women: Electric cars, Elon Musk may be off-putting Why I bought a Tesla: One woman's experience buying Elon Musk's sleek EV Their disclosures highlight the difficult balance Tesla must strike as it ramps up production while trying to stem costs. Tesla recently told shareholders that in the three months ending June 30, 2019, it made 87,048 vehicles, including 72,531 Model 3s, the company's lowest-priced sedan.
Before Owen Diaz left his job at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, in May of 2016, he had endured an onslaught of racist harassment from co-workers, according to a troubling new report in the New York Times. Diaz had reportedly seen swastikas drawn on bathroom walls, was taunted with the N-word and called "boy" by other workers on his shift, and even was presented with a drawing on a piece of cardboard of a face with exaggerated features and a bone in its hair with the word "boo" jotted underneath. Diaz reported the racist effigy and later moved to sue Tesla last year, alleging the company failed to address complaints of harassment and discrimination in its workplace. His son, Demetric Diaz, who took a job in a different part of the same Tesla factory via a staffing firm in 2015, also complained that his supervisor was "calling me an N-word every day," according to a lawsuit cited by the Times. The Diazes' story is not unique.
A female engineer at Tesla who accused the car manufacturer of ignoring her complaints of sexual harassment and paying her less than her male counterparts has been fired in what her lawyer alleges was an act of retaliation. AJ Vandermeyden, who went public with her discrimination lawsuit against Elon Musk's car company in an interview with the Guardian in February, was dismissed from the company this week. Vandermeyden had claimed she was taunted and catcalled by male employees and that Tesla failed to address her complaints about the harassment, unequal pay and discrimination. "It's shocking in this day and age that this is still a fight we have to have," she said at the time. In a statement to the Guardian, Tesla confirmed the company had fired Vandermeyden, saying it had thoroughly investigated the employee's allegations with the help of a "a neutral, third-party expert" and concluded her complaints were unmerited.