IG Metall, a powerful union in the German auto industry, claims it is gaining ground at Tesla Gigafactory Berlin, with more workers joining the union’s effort.

While a lot of attention is on the autoworker union in the US amid an expanding strike on Ford, GM, and Stellantis, Tesla is facing its own showdown with a union in Germany. In the US, Tesla has managed to fend off unionization efforts at its plants, but it is facing a different battle in Germany since establishing its Gigafactory Berlin – a giant factory just outside of the German capital.

Tesla ran into its first unionization effort in Germany back in 2017, but it managed to avoid IG Metall getting into its German operations by offering a salary increase and stock options to its employees. After Giga Berlin was announced, IG Metall said it was looking to get a foot into the new gigafactory. In 2021, the powerful German union put together a worker committee to recruit members from Tesla.

There hasn’t been much noise about the effort until now. Over the last week, the union has raised concerns about the working conditions at Tesla Gigafactory Berlin in an apparent renewed effort to recruit. The local government has challenged union claims about the incident rate and working conditions at the factory, but IG Metall is claiming to have made grounds, nonetheless.

Today, the union claims that over 1,000 Tesla workers have joined its effort to collectively bargain for better working conditions (via Frankfurter Allgemeine, translated from German):

According to IG Metall, more than 1,000 employees of the US electric car manufacturer Tesla jointly demanded better working conditions in a first-time campaign at the factory in Grünheide. A spokesman for the union said on Monday that they showed up on the night and early shifts with IG Metall stickers on their T-shirts. According to the union, it read: “Together for safe & fair work at Tesla.” The action should continue throughout the day.

The union effort comes after a recent media report in Germany about a “statistically high number of work accidents” at the plant, which the union claims is due to Tesla overworking the employees in poor conditions.

The report is based on Tesla having “190 reportable accidents between June and November 2022.” However, the local Brandenburg government has denied that the number of accidents is abnormal for a factory of this size, which is now believed to employ over 10,000 people.

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MuskWire TLDR:

IG Metall, a powerful union in the German auto industry, is making progress in its efforts to unionize workers at Tesla Gigafactory Berlin. The union claims that over 1,000 employees at the factory have joined its campaign for better working conditions. Tesla has previously managed to prevent unionization at its US plants, but it is facing a different challenge in Germany. The company avoided IG Metall’s entry into its German operations in 2017 by offering salary increases and stock options to its employees. However, with the establishment of Gigafactory Berlin, IG Metall has been actively recruiting members from Tesla. The union has raised concerns about working conditions at the factory, citing a high number of work accidents and overworked employees. The local government has disputed these claims, but IG Metall maintains that it has made progress in its efforts.