Tesla must rehire fired worker and Elon Musk must remove anti-union tweet, NLRB rules

On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board ordered Tesla Inc. to reinstate an employee it fired in 2017 and said Chief Executive Elon Musk must delete a three-year-old tweet urging not to unionize.

The NLRB in Washington, DC, agreed with a 2019 ruling by an NLRB judge in California, who found that the electric car maker violated labor laws related to unionization efforts at its Fremont, California plant.

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You must offer to reinstate Richard Ortiz to his old job as a production associate within 14 days, as well as return back payment and benefits. The company must also compensate you for the resulting tax consequences, according to the ruling.

Tesla said in the documents that Ortiz was fired for lying during an investigation into a Facebook post about union activity at the company.

Margo Feinberg, a Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers attorney who was hired by the United Auto Workers on Ortiz’s behalf, told MarketWatch Thursday that, as far as she knows, Ortiz had wanted to return to work at Tesla.

The decision in the Tesla case, first reported by Bloomberg News, comes as the House passed the Protection of the Right to Organize Act (PRO), or HR 482, earlier this month. The legislation, which would give workers new protections when they seek to unionize and penalize companies that violate workers’ rights, is expected to be adopted by the Senate.

Watch: The PRO Law, called ‘most important labor legislation in several generations’, approves House

“If this was OSHA, there would be fines,” Feinberg said. “The NLRB ruling is not enough, but it is an important message.”

“Ultimately, we need reform,” he added, saying the PRO Law would provide injunctions and damages in a case like this.

The UAW echoed that sentiment.

“While we celebrate justice in today’s ruling, it nonetheless highlights the substantial flaws in US labor law,” UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said in a statement. “Here is a company that clearly violated the law, and yet, three years are left before these workers achieve a minimum of justice.”

As for Musk’s tweet that needs to be removed, the NLRB found it threatening. In 2018, as the UAW continued to try to organize Tesla employees, the Tesla CEO tweeted: “Nothing is stopping the Tesla team at our auto plant from voting for the union. I could do it tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues and give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2 times better than when the plant was UAW and everyone already receives medical care. “

Tesla must also remove a warning from the file of another employee who was disciplined when he interacted with Ortiz about union-related activity, the NLRB said in its ruling Thursday. Additionally, the company was ordered to repeal rules that prohibit employees from distributing union-related literature during non-working hours and wearing union badges, and threatening, disciplining, or firing an employee for union activity. Additionally, Tesla must post a notice at its plant that it was found to be in violation of labor law.

The company should also remove language from a confidentiality agreement that asks employees to sign that they cannot speak to the media, because the labor law “protects employees when they speak to the media about working conditions. , labor disputes or other terms and conditions of employment. “

The company, which has reportedly disbanded its public relations team, has not returned a request for comment.


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