Over 100 construction workers at Tesla Motors’s Gigafactory east of Reno, Nevada have walked off the site in protest, reports Bloomberg. The workers, all from the local carpenters union, are upset that the company is using out-of-state labor to build the factory where Tesla’s next-generation energy-storage devices, including its Powerwall batteries, will be made.
The dispute stems from an agreement Tesla set up with the state of Nevada in September 2014. In exchange for $1.25 billion in tax breaks over 20 years, Tesla is required to fill 50% of the factory’s 6,500 permanent positions from hires of Nevada residents.
"It’s a slap in the face to Nevada workers to walk through the parking lot at the job site and see all these license plates from Arizona and New Mexico," Todd Koch, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada, told Bloomberg.
It should be noted that those staging the walkout are not employees of Tesla, but contracted by the company. And Tesla itself isn’t bringing in workers from neighboring states—that's being done by another third-party contractor that Tesla is using called Brycon Corp.
When Bloomberg reached out to Tesla for comment, the company said that construction work at the $5 billion factory is proceeding ahead of schedule. It also said that the non-union contractor, which it did not identify by name, involved in the dispute is using a workforce made up of more than 50% Nevada residents. Tesla added that 75% of the factory workforce are residents of Nevada as well.
"Today’s activity stems from the local Carpenters Union protesting against one of the third-party construction contractors that Tesla is using," a company spokesperson told Bloomberg. "Their issue is not with how Tesla treats its workers."