Court rules Elon Musk broke federal labor law with 2018 tweet – Engadget
Elon Musk broke US labor law in 2018 when he tweeted that Tesla factory workers would give up stock options if they chose to unionize, according to a federal appeals court. On Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals observed in a decision business Insiderupheld the decision of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which found that Musk made unlawful threats surrounding employee compensation.
In May 2018, a Twitter user asked Musk about his stance on unions. “Nothing to stop the Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. They could do that if they wanted to.” tweeted in response, “But why pay union dues and give up stock options for next to nothing? Our safety record is 2 times better than when the plant was UAW and everyone is already getting healthcare.
There are literally miles of painted yellow lines and tape at the Tesla factory. Reports of forklifts not beeping is also bs. Both of these are patently false, but were reported by Reveal as “facts”.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 21, 2018
The tweet immediately attracted the attention of labor activists, and in 2021, the NLRB, responding to a complaint from the United Auto Workers union, found that Musk had threatened employees. Tesla has argued that the tweet was Musk’s way of pointing out that employees of other automakers do not receive stock options. NLRB Chair Wilma Liebman saw it differently. “The employee is going to hear, ‘If I vote to unionize, stock options will no longer be an option,’” she said. Bloomberg In 2018.
After reviewing the decision, the Fifth Circuit Court sided with the NLRB. “Since the stock options are part of Tesla employees’ compensation, and nothing in the tweet suggested that Tesla would be forced to terminate the stock options or that the UAW would cause the stock options to be forfeited, there is sufficient evidence to support the NLRB’s conclusion.” supports that the tweet constitutes an implicit threat to eliminate stock options as retaliation for unionization,” the panel wrote.
The court ordered Musk to delete the tweet. As of the writing of this article, the message is still alive. The Fifth Circuit Court also upheld an NLRB order that Tesla reinstate Richard Ortiz, an employee the automaker fired for organizing workers at its Fremont factory in California.