Elon Musk Must Delete Anti-Union Tweet, Rehire Fired Employee, Labor Board Rules

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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The federal labor board ordered Tesla to direct CEO Elon Musk to delete a past tweet and rehire a fired employee who had been a union activist, according to a Thursday ruling.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued its final ruling in the case concerning Tesla’s anti-union activity, ordering the company to take a series of steps to remedy past actions. Among the actions, the NLRB ordered Tesla to remove Musk’s May 2018 anti-union tweet, in which he said workers would need to give up stock options if they unionized.

“Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union,” Musk’s tweet said. “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.”

The NLRB ruled that Tesla had to take actions to ensure that Musk deleted the tweet. The tweet hadn’t been deleted as of Friday morning. (RELATED: ‘It’s A Matter Of Principle’: Conservative Publisher Downplays NLRB Ruling That Said His Tweet Violated Labor Law)

An aerial view of the Tesla Factory on May 13, 2020 in Fremont, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

An aerial view of the Tesla Factory on May 13, 2020 in Fremont, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Tesla case dates back to 2017 when an employee filed a complaint with the NLRB that the company had intimidated them against unionizing. The case involves a series of complaints against the Fremont, California electric vehicle maker, which have piled up since the first filing, including Musk’s tweet and the termination of a pro-union employee.

The employee, Richard Ortiz, had been a part of “Fair Future of Tesla,” a group attempting to organize Tesla workers. Ortiz was unlawfully terminated for protected organizing activity, the labor board said in its ruling.

Ortiz must be reinstated within 14 days and compensated for lost wages, the NLRB said.

“This is a great victory for workers who have the courage to stand up and organize in a system that is currently stacked heavily in favor of employers like Tesla who have no qualms about violating the law,” United Auto Workers (UAW) Vice President Cindy Estrada said in a statement Thursday.

“While we celebrate the justice in today’s ruling, it nevertheless highlights the substantial flaws in US labor law,” Estrada said. “Here is a company that clearly broke the law and yet it is three years down the road before these workers achieved a modicum of justice.”

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