Speaking at an investor conference in New York, GM CEO Mary Barra said there had been talks with the upstart electric automaker, however, Tesla isn’t really interested in dealing with the UAW.
“Tesla is not interested in our GM workforce represented by the UAW, so really, it’s a moot point,” Barra was quoted in answering analyst questions during the General Motors Capital Markets Day call earlier this month.
In case you forgot, GM will be idling production at five North American plants in 2019, including well-known facilities like Lordstown Assembly in Ohio, Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Michigan, and Oshawa Assembly in Canada. The ultimate fate of the facilities remains unclear, the plants could potentially close, but those actions are still subject to union approval.
Until Barra’s comments, neither company had publicly acknowledged a formal discussion had taken place. Tesla’s outspoken CEO, Elon Musk, had previously voiced interest in purchasing the plants, but now it turns out Tesla doesn’t want GM’s plants after all. Tesla and the UAW have had a fiery relationship in recent years, as the union has tried to organize workers at the company’s Fremont, California assembly plant. Itself a former GM facility once shared with Toyota.
Last year, the union filed a litany of unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board as part of its effort to organize the electric automaker’s assembly operations. The complaints were paired with reports of poor working conditions at the plant, which amid a changing political environment, could ramp up pressure on Tesla as it deals with scaling its production process to mainstream levels.
For GM’s part, despite cutting jobs and slashing products, the automaker isn’t turning its back on America, with Barra announcing this week that more US-built products coming down the pipe.