In an interview with CNBC’s Andrew Sorkin this past week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra shared some interesting alternative facts about Tesla and how much Tesla pays its employees. To be fair, she was asked some tough questions and Tesla isn’t her company. However, her claim that, as per her last look, “this was not the case,” was said in reference to Tesla’s employees making more than GM’s employees. She also insinuated that Tesla’s employees didn’t receive benefits such as health insurance with that answer — though, it’s hard to be completely certain what she was responding to. Elon Musk quickly debunked this in a reply to a tweet by Sawyer Merritt.
This is true. Also, Tesla employees get health insurance, stock & other benefits.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 29, 2021
Sorkin asked Barra, “It appears by my math that, on average, Tesla employees, who are non-unionized, it appears on an hourly basis may be making more money than unionized workers for example at GM.”
Barra replied, “I’d have to see the information because it’s not just the wage per hour. It’s the benefits, the healthcare, it’s pretty robust. My last look at that — that was not the case. But again, there’s not perfect transparent information, but what I would say is that I’m incredibly proud of our workforce, our representative workforce works hand in hand with UAW.”
Sorkin asked Barra if she appreciated that it does put the other automaker at a disadvantage for consumers to get subsidies when buying from unionized workforces. Although he didn’t specifically name Tesla, the fact that he said automaker and not automakers (plural), and also that they were just talking about Tesla a moment before, make it clear that this was in reference to Tesla. Barra replied:
“I think that — again, everyone has an option to do that. I mean, people have taken different positions. What I can say is we feel that working with the UAW together, we’ve made great strides in safety and quality, and training. I mean, if you think about one of the other things that have to happen is a robust workforce that knows how to build electric vehicles. We work in partnership in training with our unions.”
Although Barra expressed that she didn’t really want to talk about Tesla any further, Sorkin was persistent and wanted her to share why she thought Tesla wasn’t invited to the meetings with the Biden administration that GM has been a part of. Barra snappily replied, “I have no idea. I’m not in charge of the guest list.”
Sorkin asked her, given Tesla’s role in the industry, if she didn’t find it a little strange. She cut him off, saying:
“You know, Andrew, I don’t. I don’t give that a lot of thought. There’s a lot of things that I think about as it relates to competitors, but as I look at who’s building the middle class, who has great opportunities for a very talented workforce, that’s not something I give a lot of thought to.”
You can watch the full interview here.
It takes a robust workforce with a drive to lead to do what Elon Musk and Tesla have done for the EV market. That workforce wasn’t GM’s, but Tesla’s. Elon Musk saved the EV and led the market to what it is today. All the dancing around this, and gaslighting about who has led the electric vehicle market, has been odd. I think it’d be better to just be honest and direct about it, as Volkswagen’s Herbert Diess has been.
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