Elon Musk and many of his employees at his Tesla factory agree on one point: Work is hell.
For Musk, the billionaire CEO of the electric car company, that hell is a technical inconvenience. Tesla, which currently sells a small number of high-end cars, recently announced its plans to massively increase production and enter the mass market with its Model 3 car. “Frankly, we’re going to be in production hell,” Musk told Tesla employees during a July 28 announcement. “For at least six months, maybe longer.”
For a number of Tesla factory workers who are currently trying to unionize, hell feels like herniated neck disks, carpal tunnel, and tendinitis.
“Having to look up every day, 12 hours a day, six days a week, hands over my shoulder, it was two herniated disks in my neck,” Michael Sanchez told The Daily Beast. He has since moved to less-intensive work on door panels. “After three-plus years working at Tesla, it just starts adding on until you’re living the pain every day. Whether you’re off work or not.”
Tesla casts itself as the eco-friendly car of the future, but the tech company still depends on the physical labor of workers who assemble vehicles in its factory in Fremont, California. As the company enters a production blitz, some of these workers are demanding a union, citing a high rate of past injuries.