Tesla has dismissed claims that it terminated employees in response to a new union campaign as "false allegations." In a blog post on its website, Tesla offered its side to the story, a very different one to what has been reported by media.

The complaint filed earlier this week by the Workers United union with the US National Labor Relations Board noted that some of the workers laid off at Tesla's factory in Buffalo, New York were involved with a unionisation attempt earlier on.

The filing claimed those employees were fired specifically for their involvement in the union campaign. Tesla categorically rejected these claims and stated "the facts behind the event" in its blog post. 

The company noted that it conducts performance review cycles every six months where employees receive a performance rating from 1 to 5 in each cycle "that helps them calibrate their work with the expectations of their job."

"In the worst case, if an employee fails to meet their performance expectations they will be let go," Tesla said, adding that this review process is not localised to Buffalo and takes place globally, including in North America, Europe, China. 

The automaker went further into detail, noting that as part of the most recent performance review cycle (July 2022 through December 2022), managers were informed on December 13, 2022 that exits for low performers would start the week of February 12, 2023.

Tesla Auto Labeling

Tesla auto labeling

"Approximately 4% of the employees on the Autopilot labeling team in Buffalo were exited as a result of this performance review cycle. The employees let go as part of this process received prior feedback on their poor performance from their managers over the course of the review period. Despite feedback, they did not demonstrate sufficient improvement."

Tesla also revealed that impacted employees were identified on February 3, 2023, which was "well before the union campaign was announced." The company claims it became aware of organising activities approximately 10 days later. 

"We learned in hindsight that one out of the 27 impacted employees officially identified as part of the union campaign. This exercise pre-dated any union campaign," Tesla noted.

The automaker wrote that the Autopilot labelling team in Buffalo has grown 54 percent over the last six months, from 437 employees to 675 employees as of the beginning of this week. Tesla said the reason there is time monitoring for image labelling is to improve the ease of use of its labelling software.

"Since its purpose is to calculate how long it takes to label an image, there is nothing to be gained by delaying bathroom breaks. The claim that Tesla pressures employees to do so is categorically false."

Tesla's Buffalo facility (Gigafactory 2) builds solar panels, solar cells, components for Superchargers, and power electronics for many applications.