When construction of Tesla Motors’ massive lithium-ion battery manufacturing and reprocessing facility in Reno, NV is complete some time next year, the Californian automaker will begin the long process of hiring employees to work at the 1,000 acre facility.
Like its automotive manufacturing plant in Fremont California, where it currently makes the Tesla Model S electric soon and will soon begin production of the Tesla Model X electric SUV, it is expected that Tesla will only want the best of the best working at its battery manufacturing plant. As a consequence, Tesla is expected to pay a decent living wage to prospective employees talented and hard working enough to meet the grade.
Despite that expectation however, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] remains tight-lipped about prospective employee renumeration, describing recent rumors that it would be offering an average salary of $25 per hour to its Gigafactory staff as being factually incorrect.
The rumor started on Sunday, when Reno’s local newspaper, the Reno Gazette-Journal published an interview in which Mike Kazmierski, CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, discussed the positive effects that Tesla’s Gigafactory was bringing to the Reno Sparks region of western Nevada. The article also claimed that Tesla had announced it would be paying its Gigafactory workers an average of $25 per hour.
Talking of the knock-on effects of the high-tech automaker’s arrival in the region, Kazmierski said that enquiries from large multinational and multi-state companies had increased, with much more of an emphasis on the tech sector than it had previously experienced.
“We have plenty of activity now. Our top prospects list alone is the equivalent of another Tesla,” he said, adding that the influx of high-tech industries would mean that Nevada’s workforce would need to undergo an ‘upgrade’ from the traditional jobs the area has supported to date. Part of that upgrade would mandate heavier investment in education to raise the skill levels of the workforce.
A higher-trained workforce demands higher wages too, something called wage inflation. According to Kazmierski, that’s already starting to happen.
“Three years ago, a support call center paid $10, $11, $12 an hour,” he said. “We’re basically saying, if you’re not paying $12 to $15 an hour, you probably will go somewhere else. That’s part of the reason why we talk retention of workforce as a priority for us.”
While there’s no doubt that Tesla’s staff will be highly trained however, Tesla remains quiet on the actual salaries of prospective workers. In an official statement made yesterday, a spokesman for the automaker dismissed the Reno Gazette-Journal’s claims.
“Unfortunately the Reno Gazette Journal got the facts wrong, again,” the company said through an official spokesperson. “While we won’t comment specifically on Tesla employee compensation, we did submit an application to the State of Nevada last October which included projections of average hourly wage costs for its operational workforce that were informed by regional wage trends.”
Historically, Tesla Motors has always offered a highly competitive salary for its production staff when compared to other automakers, offering what is claimed by some sources to be around $17 per hour for new hires at its Fremont facility. That’s a few dollar more per hour than the industry average as mandated by the Union of Automotive Workers.
We can also attest too, from first-hand experience chatting to workers at the Fremont facility back in 2011, that Tesla isn’t afraid to offer specialist staff who are at the top of their field generous incentives to join the firm. While figures weren’t publicly discussed, staff we spoke to had described Tesla as being very ‘persuasive’ when head-hunting them for a highly-skilled assembly role.
It seems logical that Tesla will follow a similar hiring practice in order to ensure its Gigafactory is staffed by the very best in lithium-ion cell production. As a consequence, workers from existing battery production facilities at Nissan’s Smyrna plant in Tennessee, and the LG plant in Holland, Michigan — which assembles battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt and Chevrolet Spark EV — are obvious potential candidates.
For now, the amount of money Tesla plans on offering its Gigafactory employees will remain a secret. If it does push the pay scale upwards however, it will only be a matter of time before the rest of the auto industry follows.
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