Tesla sales employees say they’re being paid peanuts — even as billionaire CEO Elon Musk stands to reap a hefty windfall from the company’s recent stock boom.
The workers have launched an online petition demanding a 15-percent hike in their base pay, saying recent internal changes at the electric car maker have made it harder to make ends meet.
The raise would bring Tesla’s sales advisers and vehicle prep specialists closer to a “living wage” after the company slashed commissions without significantly raising wages, according to the petition, which had more than 350 signatures as of Thursday morning.
“We have been told to be scrappy while watching our wages diminish, our workload increase, and continuous promises of a better future if we push though now,” Dare Brewer, a Tesla adviser in Richmond, Virginia, wrote in the petition. “… The company is doing exceedingly well with stocks and sales but the amount we make has decreased.”
The employees’ demands come as Tesla’s stock price hovers around $500 after more than doubling over the last three months. The rally has followed the opening of Tesla’s first factory in China, a major market for electric vehicles, as well as stronger-than-expected delivery numbers for the end of last year.
Musk — who’s already worth about $29 billion — stands to get $346 million in vested stock options once Tesla’s market value hits $100 billion and maintains that level for a one-month and six-month average. The company’s market cap stood at nearly $90 billion Thursday morning.
Tesla rejiggered its sales jobs in the second half of last year by combining its owner adviser, customer experience specialist and delivery experience specialist positions, CNBC reported Wednesday. That reportedly means sales employees have a much larger slate of duties that includes selling and leasing cars, preparing vehicles for delivery and hawking Tesla’s solar and energy storage products.
Tesla also cut workers’ commissions and removed or restructured bonuses but gave the best performing and most senior sales employees only small base pay raises, according to CNBC.
The sales workers care about Tesla as a company, but managers have so far responded to their advocacy for better pay by trying to “divide and intimidate” them, according to Brewer.
“We are fighting to breathe life into a company that is not doing the same for us,” Brewer wrote in the petition.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.