The United Auto Workers is busy inserting itself into the Toyota/Tesla joint venture barely 24 hours after it was even announced. The two companies announced that they would be collaborating on electric vehicles, and Tesla would be taking over the revolutionary (at the time) NUMMI plant in Fremont, California, to build their new Model S sedan.
The NUMMI plant was a groundbreaking venture between Toyota and GM that saw one of the first instances of Japanese management practices and American-style union labor. Before the collaboration, the Fremont plant was responsible for some of the most notorious horror stories regarding American auto workers, such as on-the-job intoxication and workers putting coke bottles inside vehicles so that the rattling would annoy customers. By the time the plant had closed at the end of 2009, the plant had experienced a 180-degree turnaround, with quality levels on par with Toyota’s best-performing Japanese factories.
4,500 NUMMI employees lost their jobs when the plant was shuttered, and it’s no surprise that the UAW is pushing hard to get the jobs back. An all-American, union made electric car would probably go along way to boost the perception of electric cars in the public eye, but with a pricetag of over $100,00, you can be certain that the amount of tomfoolery and quality defects that Tesla will tolerate is essentially zero.