• Tesla said it now has 12,277 workers in its Austin gigafactory
  • The EV maker is required to generate 5,001 new jobs over the next four years
  • The Elon Musk-owned company was accused of labor violations late last year

Electric vehicle giant Tesla more than tripled its workforce at its 2,500-acre manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas, last year, a new report has revealed. The tripled workforce exceeds requirements in its agreement with Travis County, which says the company must generate 5,001 new jobs over the next four years.

A 114-page annual compliance report filed by Tesla with Travis County's Economic Development Program showed that from 3,523 contingent and permanent employees in 2021, the company had 12,277 workers at the end of 2022, according to Bloomberg. The report further revealed that just over half of its Austin workers resided in the county, which meant it had already exceeded the job generation requirement in its agreement with the county.

Under the said agreement, Tesla is mandated to create 5,001 new jobs at the gigafactory over the next four years. The Travis County contract also requires the electric car maker, which is reportedly a leading company in the United States in terms of job growth, to invest about $1.1 billion into the county over the next five years.

Tesla stated in its compliance report that it invested $5.81 billion into the manufacturing hub in 2022, as per Bloomberg. The automaker also said the average full-time employee at its Austin factory was earning at least $47,147. Online jobs marketplace ZipRecruiter estimated that Tesla workers at the Texas hub were earning an average of $68,060 annually.

Earlier this year, the Elon Musk-owned automaker filed with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to expand its gigafactory this year. The company is looking to spend over $770 million on the expansion, CNBC reported.

Also last year, the company completed the first phase of its ambitious solar rooftop at the Austin car factory as it sought to turn the hub into a global model for sustainable facilities. Tesla described the project, which has been expected to generate 27 megawatts of power, as "the largest rooftop solar installation in the world, as per Bloomberg.

Musk previously said he was planning to turn the gigafactory into an "ecological paradise," TechCrunch reported. However, there have been reports about Travis County residents expressing concerns regarding water pollution and noise.

"When we heard that Tesla was considering moving into the area, there was a great deal of trepidation with what they would or would not provide," Richard Franklin, an activist and a resident of Austin's Colony, told Protocol in a report released on the same day Tesla unveiled the Austin gigafactory in April 2022.

"Tesla consumes a lot of water, but we are not sure exactly how much water they're going to be consuming and how much they are going to be discharging," Susana Almanza, director of local environmental justice group PODER, told Protocol.

Austin's Colony, where the gigafactory is located, has had a lack of access to clean water even before Tesla entered the picture, according to the outlet.

"Austin's Colony residents also see hypocrisy in the plant getting clean public water while theirs is private and dirty," Protocol wrote.

Aside from environmental concerns, Tesla has also been faced with other legal troubles in its Austin plant. In November 2022, construction workers who helped construct the massive manufacturing facility filed complaints with the U.S. Labor Department, accusing the EV giant of wage theft and other labor violations.

Several whistleblowers have also come forward to allege that the facility offered poor working conditions, making workers vulnerable to injuries. One employee claimed that workers were provided with fake credentials instead of the required job training that involved worker rights, health and safety.

Just last week, some Travis County residents raised concerns about the gigafactory's large stadium lights that were bleeding into their homes. Neighbors said the lights were making it hard for them to sleep.

One resident told KVUE that the illuminating lights were "frustrating."

Jim Lacey, who rents out his home at times, said the wildlife that used to be around his area was gone and the bright lights were not attracting guests.

"My guests can't come out here anymore. You've taken over the wildlife. Now you're threatening my very livelihood," the outlet quoted Lacey as saying.

Some of the lights have reportedly been pointed away from a complaining resident's home, but other lights are still pointed toward residential areas, the outlet reported.

The new Tesla factory is seen in Austin, Texas, U.S. October 8, 2021.
The new Tesla factory is seen in Austin, Texas, U.S. October 8, 2021. Reuters / STAFF