Leaked Tesla pay data: How much Elon Musk's factory workers now make across the US after some got raises

Tesla recently increased the wages for its factory workers nationwide. The updated pay guidelines, which came into effect on January 8 following an announcement in December, outline a pay scale ranging from $22 to $39 per hour for factory workers. The pay tiers are categorized into three regions based on the cost of living, with sites in Austin, Texas and Sparks, Nevada receiving the lowest pay, while those in Fremont and Palo Alto, California receive the highest. Notably, the state-mandated minimum wages in these regions also follow a similar trend.

Tesla's factory workers are classified into seven levels, while leads are divided into two levels, with Level 1 workers at the Fremont factory receiving $25.25 per hour, and Level 7 workers receiving $35.50. In comparison, Level 1 workers in the lowest-paying regions are eligible for $22 per hour. Also, for reference, the average auto worker made about $28 per hour last year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Workers can be eligible to move between levels every six months based on their performance as well as Tesla's overall results, according to the document.

Workers are also eligible for a bonus every six months at the end of performance periods that go from January through June and July through December. Tesla's bonus system is called Cyber Wallet and bonuses are determined by employee performance as well as Tesla's results, the document shows. It's unclear what the document means by "results."

The carmaker uses a five-point system for its biannual performance reviews, multiple workers said. The performance reviews help determine eligibility for the Cyber Wallet. In Tesla's reviews, workers who are given a one or two rating are considered underperforming and do not receive points toward a bonus, the workers told BI. A three rating is considered meeting expectations and is eligible for a bonus, while a four or five rating means the individual has exceeded expectations and is eligible for an even higher bonus, according to the workers.

The Cyber Wallet bonuses can be used toward 20 hours of paid time off at the employee's current hourly rate, a long-term cash reward, or restricted stock units and stock options, according to Tesla's internal document on compensation.

A spokesperson for Tesla did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication.

Tesla employs over 140,000 people, the majority of which are based in the US. The carmaker told staff in January that it was giving production associates and leads a "market adjustment pay increase," according to flyers at Tesla's factories that were first reported by Bloomberg.

The electric-car maker is one of several to hike wages in recent months. Toyota and Hyundai have also increased pay at US factories in the wake of the United Auto Workers' historic contract.

Tesla is also facing pressure from union efforts. UAW President Shawn Fain has said he has Tesla in his sights and employees at Tesla's Fremont Factory have reportedly already formed a UAW organizing committee.

The effort won't be without its challenges, as CEO Elon Musk has voiced confidence that a union isn't necessary and some Tesla workers previously told BI they'd be hard-pressed to join a union.

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