USW Members Attend Tesla Meeting

Local 326 members, from left, Mike Miller, Mike Avila, and Tyson BagleyThree USW members who work at the Phillips 66 oil refinery in Rodeo, Calif., attended the Tesla annual shareholders’ meeting on June 6 to deliver a message of solidarity with workers at Tesla’s SolarCity solar roofing tile factory in Buffalo, N.Y.

Local 326 President Mike Miller, along with members Mike Avila and Tyson Bagley (pictured, from left) and USW staff member Shawn Gilchrist, sought to confront the company’s leaders over wages and working conditions for Tesla employees in Buffalo as the USW attempts the organize the factory.

The opening of the Buffalo factory faced a number of delays since Tesla, the electric vehicle maker led by inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk, acquired the solar panel producer in November. Originally, jobs at the factory were expected to pay about $65,000 per year. Now, Tesla says it intends to pay wages of $12.50 per hour, or $26,000 per year.

The company required questions to be submitted several days in advance via Twitter, which ultimately prevented the USW delegation from asking questions about the situation in Buffalo. Still, Miller, who has served as Local 326 president for 8 years, said he was proud to stand up on behalf of his fellow workers at the meeting, held in Mountain View, Calif.

“They say an injury to one is an injury to all, so we need to have solidarity always,” Miller said. “When people need help, we need to step up to the plate.”

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