Two recently laid off Tesla employees have claimed that the company’s factory in upstate New York is shockingly inefficient and poorly run.
Dale Witherell and Dennis Scott, who were laid off from the ‘Gigafactory II’ solar panel plant in Buffalo as part of company-wide cuts in January, spoke out in an interview this week with WIVB-TV.
Constructed in 2014, the factory received $750 million in taxpayer funds as the keystone in Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ‘Buffalo Billion’ initiative.
As part of the deal, the factory must employ 1,460 workers by April 2020 or face $41.2 million in state penalties.
Tesla tells DailyMail.com that there about 800 employees working at the facility now – half working for Tesla and half for Panasonic, which shares the facility.
But Witherell and Scott say the colleagues they worked with were lazy and inefficient, with little work to do.
Dennis Scott (above), who was laid off from the ‘Gigafactory II’ solar panel plant in Buffalo as part of company-wide cuts in January, spoke out in an interview this week
CEO Elon Musk (above) has been under intense pressure to deliver on his promise of stabilizing production for the company’s Model 3. Tesla has cut headcount to trim the price of the car
A Tesla spokeswoman strongly disputed their account, telling DailyMail.com: ‘We have been upfront about our operations and project impact in Buffalo. As we’ve said, Solar Roof is a product that needs to last decades, and therefore has a long development cycle, and we’ve been thoughtful and deliberate as we gradually ramped production.’
‘We understand that job cuts like those we announced two weeks ago are never easy, and we are grateful to everyone who departed for their contributions to Tesla’s mission,’ the spokeswoman continued.
Scott and Witherell described the plant as poorly organized and managed, with workers who had little to do.
‘We had people who literally would do five minutes work – right to the phone. Five minutes work – right to the phone,’ said Scott. ‘There isn’t an urgency there.’
Witherell described the plant as ‘unacceptable for the inefficiencies and glaring deficiencies I saw.’
Tesla says it has leadership present on every shift, and that cell phones are restricted to business purposes only on the factory floor, with violators being held to account.
Scott claimed that based on the number of people who worked on his shift, he did not believe there were 800 people employed at the factory – but he did not provide additional evidence for that claim. Tesla insists it has documented its employee headcount accurately with the state.
Dale Witherell (above) described the plant as ‘unacceptable for the inefficiencies and glaring deficiencies I saw’
The former employees also said that Tesla’s carefully staged media tour of the Buffalo factory in November was a ‘dog and pony’ show.
WIVB reports that its cameras were not allowed inside the plant during the highly controlled tour, with Tesla instead recording B-roll and providing it to news outlets.
The station said that the company hand-picked employees to speak with reporters, and did not let the news teams roam freely.
‘It was all fabricated for show,’ Witherell said. ‘There was no actual production that day, so some of the teams in their specific area were instructed to make sure they looked busy and they actually were working on the same module over and over again.’
Scott and Witherell said Tesla had walls built to hide unused equipment and blocked off large areas.
Tesla strongly disputed that a ‘wall’ was constructed for the media tour. The company says that a warehouse was constructed for the purpose of securing unused equipment, as the plant continues to expand.
Constructed in 2014, the factory (above) received $750 million in taxpayer funds as the keystone in Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ‘Buffalo Billion’ initiative
In January, Tesla laid off 7 per cent of its global workforce, including at least 50 in Buffalo, to reduce costs. Witherell and Scott were among the laid off employees.
The layoffs came as Tesla moved to trim costs and reduce the price of its car designed for the mass market, the Model 3.
In the fourth quarter, Tesla delivered fewer-than-expected Model 3 sedans, and this week the company cut $1,100 from the base price of the car.
The electric car company now says on its website that the car starts at $42,900, still a ways from its goal of lowering the base price to $35,000.
CEO Elon Musk has been under intense pressure to deliver on his promise of stabilizing production for the company’s mass market sedans, seen as crucial to it easing a cash crunch and achieving long-term profitability.