Union says Elon Musk violated labour law with tweets

The tech mogul is under fire for questioning the benefits of unionisation.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which represents workers in the US and Canada, has said that tweets by Elon Musk could be viewed as a threat against his employees from organising.

The UAW, which is seeking to represent workers at Tesla’s facility in Fremont, California, filed the complaint with the National Labour Relations Board late on Wednesday.

Accordingly, it is calling on the US National Labour Relations Board, which has a federal purview, to investigate Musk’s comments, made in reference to his company, Tesla.

Tesla specialises in electric cars, solar panels and clean energy storage.

 “Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so [tomorrow] if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?” Musk wrote on Twitter on May 20, in reply to a question by another user.



When asked if he was “threatening to take away benefits from unionised workers?” – US federal law does not allow companies to take punitive action against employees who unionise – Musk said:

“No, UAW does that. They want divisiveness & enforcement of 2 class “lords & commoners” system. That sucks. US fought War of Independence to get *rid* of a 2 class system! Managers & workers [should] be equal [with] easy movement either way. Managing sucks [by the way]. Hate doing it so much.



"UAW organizers have consistently dismissed the value of Tesla equity as part of our compensation package," Tesla later clarified in a statement.

However, a UAW spokesman told CNBC that it “does not have a policy preventing employees from owning stock options.”

This is not the first or even second time that Tesla has come under fire for its labour practices. Last year, based on another UAW complaint, the National Labour Review Board found that Tesla was in violation of workers right – for forcing workers to sign confidentiality agreements that prevented them from talking about their working conditions at the company. 

In June, another case is set to be heard by the Review Board, this one spurred by employees alleging that Tesla tried to bar them from unionising. 

Another review is pending of workplace safety practices at Tesla's Fremont plant, this one led by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

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