The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Tesla engaged in unfair labor practices, must reinstate fired worker and scrub Elon Musk tweet, NLRB says

The board held that an administrative law judge was correct in finding Tesla engaged in unfair labor practices

Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Tesla must give a fired worker his job back and chief executive Elon Musk must delete a tweet discouraging unionization, the National Labor Relations Board ordered Thursday, upholding much of a 2019 ruling on Tesla’s alleged unfair labor practices.

The board found that Tesla unlawfully interrogated workers over suspected unionization efforts, threatened workers with the loss of their stock options if they unionized and unlawfully fired one worker and disciplined another over protected union-related activity, the board said.

Tesla also unfairly maintained a policy prohibiting employees from communicating with the media, in violation of their right to speak “concerning labor disputes and terms and conditions of employment,” the board found. But it also reversed one key finding of administrative law Judge Amita Baman Tracy’s Sept. 2019 decision, finding Tesla did not violate federal labor law when it told workers that joining a union would be futile.

Tesla and CEO Elon Musk violated federal labor law, judge rules

Still, Tesla was ordered to have Musk delete a tweet from 2018 reading: “Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets healthcare.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the tweet was still up.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla gave workers permission to stay home rather than risk getting covid-19. Then it sent termination notices.

Bloomberg News was first to report on the decision.

As part of the case, Tesla was found to have introduced rules requiring permission for distribution of union pamphlets and related literature as part of a spate of offenses committed by Tesla and Musk that violated provisions of the Labor Relations Act. The administrative judge ordered remedies such as back-pay and the rehiring of one fired worker, removal of disciplinary records for another and detailed notice of Tesla’s labor violations for workers at its Fremont, Calif., plant.

The board decision issued by three members, including two Republicans, upheld those provisions of the initial ruling.