Elon Musk baiting union again


Tesla workers held their first-ever workplace representation vote on Feb. 28 … in Germany. Under German labor law, workers at any enterprise with five or more employees have the right to elect a “works council” to represent them. And unlike in the United States, employers have little ability to stop that.

Eighteen miles outside of Berlin, Tesla’s first European assembly plant isn’t even fully operational yet, and yet workers elected 19 from their ranks to represent them on Feb. 28. The vote was held at the request of IG Metall, which represents other carmakers in Germany. 

By contrast, in the United States, Tesla was able to stymie a 2016-2018 campaign by United Auto Workers at its Fremont, California, plant and a 2019 union campaign by IBEW and United Steelworkers at its factory in Buffalo, New York. According to the National Labor Relations Board, Tesla violated federal labor law in 12 separate instances in its zeal to squelch the union at Fremont. Security guards harassed workers passing out union pamphlets in the parking lot, and took pictures of their badges. Workers were barred from wearing pro-union T-shirts and buttons. Union supporters were repeatedly interrogated, and one of them was fired.

The anti-union tone came from the top down, and billionaire CEO Elon Musk was found to have personally violated the law. Musk summoned a top pro-union worker to his office and tried to talk him out of supporting the union. He also posted multiple anti-union messages on Twitter, including a tweet that said employees would give up their stock options if they formed a union. A federal judge ruled that was an illegal threat to take away an employee benefit as a consequence for voting to unionize, and ordered Musk to delete the tweet. It’s still up.

On March 2, Musk was at it again, baiting the union. “I’d like hereby to invite UAW to hold a union vote at their convenience,” he tweeted. “Tesla will do nothing to stop them.”


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