Tesla drops interest in GM plants because of UAW, Barra says

DETROIT — GM CEO Mary Barra confirmed Friday that the company has discussed selling assembly operations — potentially slated for closure this year — to Tesla Inc.

Barra, speaking during an investor conference in New York, said there “have been conversations;” however, “Tesla is not interested in our GM work force represented by the UAW, so really, it’s a moot point.”

GM is ending production at four U.S. plants in 2019, including Lordstown Assembly in Ohio and Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Michigan. The plants potentially could close, but such actions are still subject to union negotiations.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk publicly voiced interest in purchasing the plants, but until Friday, neither company had confirmed such discussions. Tesla media representatives did not respond to an e-mail from Automotive News seeking comment.

Tesla and the UAW have had a combative relationship in recent years, as the union has pushed to organize the company’s assembly plant, a former GM facility, in Fremont, Calif.

As part of its effort to organize the electric automaker’s factory, the union last year filed a string of unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. The complaints, grouped with reports of working conditions at the plant and a changing political environment, could turn up the heat on Tesla as it deals with production issues.