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Tesla and Musk Lose Ruling on Factory Union Issues – The New York Times

A federal appeals court on Friday affirmed a finding that Tesla illegally fired an employee involved in union organizing, and that the company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, illegally threatened workers’ stock options. If they choose to form a union.

The three-judge opinion on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allows the National Labor Relations Board to enforce a 2021 order requiring Tesla to back pay, fire the employee, Richard Ortiz and Mr Musk. twitter post suggesting that workers could lose stock options if they unionized.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on the ruling.

The finding comes at a time when other companies run by Mr Musk have raised concerns about labor law violations by workers. Last year, eight former employees of the rocket maker SpaceX led by Mr. Musk filed charges of unfair labor practices, saying the company had hired them to help write a letter calling for better enforcement of its stated policies on sexual harassment. Had to retaliate against him. Cases are pending.

In February, Tesla fired at least 18 workers as a result of a union organizing campaign at a plant in Buffalo. The union seeking to represent the workers called the firing retaliatory and filed charges before the labor board. Tesla said in a statement that the firings were the result of a semiannual performance review and that the termination decisions were made before the union campaign became public.

The case is of 2017 on Friday. At the time, Mr. Ortiz was known to be involved in an effort to unionize the company’s plant in Fremont, California, which included distributing union materials and pushing for pro-union legislation, when he spoke to his co-workers. Posted screenshots that were anti-union on a personal Facebook page.

When a company investigator asked Mr. Ortiz where the screenshots came from, Mr. Ortiz said he did not remember, although a colleague had sent the photos after obtaining them from an internal human resources site. Mr. Ortiz later admitted that his response was a lie, and the company claimed that he was fired for making a false statement.

The labor board concluded that Mr. Ortiz was fired because he engaged in union activity, not because he lied. The circuit court agreed that “substantial evidence” pointed to a conclusion that “union animosity prompted the complaint, investigation, and decision to terminate Ortiz.”

Mr Musk’s May 2018 post about stock options said there was nothing stopping Tesla workers at the plant from voting for the union, “but why pay union dues and give up stock options for nothing?” give?”

Tesla argued that the statement was a direct prediction based on Mr. Musk’s understanding that other members of the United Automobile Workers union did not receive stock options, and that his benign intent became clear in subsequent posts in the same thread.

But the labor board concluded the post would have been interpreted as a threat by employees to forfeit their stock options if they chose to unionize and ordered Mr Musk to remove it. The circuit court agreed and ruled that the board could enforce its order.


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