STOREY COUNTY, Nev. (KOLO) - Picketers lined the approach to the front gate at the Tesla gigafactory at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center Monday morning.
The crowd, drawn from various construction trades, was charging one of the subcontractors on the job with spurning local workers in favor of those from out of state and asking those reporting for work to turn around and go home.
Their specific target is Brycon Construction, an Albuquerque-based non-union firm, which they say has been choosing to bring in out-of-state workers--dry wall installers, painters and others--instead of hiring locally.
"Workers are upset and they're angry that the state of Nevada put forth $1.4 billion in tax incentives for Tesla to come here," said Russell James, an official with Local 567, District 16 of the Painters' Union, "and they're using that money to hire out-of-state contractors from New Mexico and that contractor in turn is dragging workers from New Mexico here."
The agreement between the state and Tesla requires a minimum of 50 percent of the work force be hired from within the state.
Tesla issued a statement saying they're meeting that standard and more, noting the dispute was with a third-party contractor, not them, and that 50 percent of Brycon's work force is locals.
That's backed up by the latest state audit of the project, which showed during the last quarter, 74% of the nearly 900 workers employed at the site were from Nevada, adding that Tesla was in full compliance with the agreement.
A spokesman for the local Buildings and Trades Council doesn't dispute those figures, but says Tesla is being disingenuous in describing this as a disagreement with a third party. This protest--he said--was a warning. He declined to say what might be ahead Tuesday.
A Brycon spokesman, by the way, said its pay scale is fair, the benefit package is good and they prefer to hire locals.