Steelworkers, IBEW launch organizing drive at Tesla ‘green jobs’ plant in Buffalo

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TESLA’S SOLAR PANEL PLANT in Buffalo, N.Y., is the subject of an organizing drive by the Steelworkers and IBEW, responding to workers’ call to have a voice in the company and equal rights with a union contract. – Buffalo News photo

Buffalo, NY (PAI) — The Steelworkers and the Electrical Workers have launched a joint organizing drive, responding to worker contacts, at the Tesla “green jobs” solar panel plant in Buffalo, N.Y.

The campaign, which started last month, aims to organize approximately 400 production and maintenance workers at the plant, a former USW-represented Republic Steel factory. The plant is now part of a state initiative to bring high-tech factory jobs to the area.

“The only way we can ensure we have a voice in the company and have equal rights across the board is with a union contract,” Aaron Nicpon, a member of the internal organizing committee, told the Steelworkers.

“We want to have a voice at Tesla so we can have a better future for ourselves and our families.” Added fellow member Rob Walsh: “I wanted to work at Tesla because I wanted a job in green energy, a job that can change the world. But I also want a fair wage for my work.”

USW District 4 Director John Shinn said workers’ concerns can be addressed while still maintaining Tesla’s long-term viability. “We’re committed to the continuing success of this facility,” said Shinn, “and to making sure that Tesla’s highly skilled work force has good, family-sustaining jobs. This historic USW site will be the model of how emerging clean technology manufacturing can provide such an opportunity for its workers.”

USW and IBEW are partnering with the “Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and the Coalition of Economic Justice, so together we can build a brighter Buffalo,” said Shinn.

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