Californian administrative law judge Amita Baman Tracy has ruled that Tesla committed a series of labour violations in 2017 and 2018.
According to a Bloomberg report, the judge said the car-maker threatened and retaliated against employees. One incident included a 2018 tweet from Elon Musk, which suggested employees who chose to join a union would give up company-paid stock options. Tracy ruled that was a violation of the American National Labor Relations Act.
Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. 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.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 21, 2018
The judge ordered Tesla to offer reinstatement and back-pay to a fired, pro-union employee. Tracy also called for a warning issued to another union supporter be revoked. Finally, the ruling asks the company to hold a meeting at its assembly plant in Fremont, California, which Musk must attend. Either he or an agent with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) must read a notice to employees informing them that the company broke the law.
The ruling was issued in response to complaints filed by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
Tesla will likely appeal the ruling to the NLRB members, who are presidential appointees based in Washington. Bloomberg reports that both sides see an appeal as basically inevitable. Even Tracy felt as much, saying “This will be appealed no matter what I decide,” during the trial.
Ultimately, the NLRB has limited ability to punish companies that violate labour laws. However, the ruling could prove useful to UAW supporters in making a case to workers.