Elon Musk has invited the United Auto Workers (UAW) union will vote for a union at Tesla’s Fremont, California plant.
Musk tweeted the challenge after President Joe Biden, speaking in his address on the state of the union, mentioned rival carmakers Ford and General Motors – both of which have a strong union presence, a key component of Biden’s political base – but not Tesla.
Gene Simmons, bassist and singer of the iconic rock band Kiss, said on Twitter that pro-union Biden’s disregard may have been “because Tesla is not a union and has moved to Texas, a state with a ‘right to work.’
Musk apparently agreed and replied: “I would now like to invite the UAW to hold a union vote when it is convenient for them. Tesla will do nothing to stop them. ” Musk’s argument is that because the Gulf region has such a competitive labor market, Tesla needs to “treat and compensate our (great) people well,” which makes unions unattractive.
Our real challenge is that Bay Area has negative unemployment, so if we don’t treat and compensate our (great) people well, they have many other offers and will just leave!
I would like to hereby invite the UAW to hold a trade union vote when it is convenient for them. Tesla will do nothing to stop them.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2022
Although Musk says he welcomes a fair vote for unionization, he and other Tesla executives have been found guilty in the past of sabotaging union efforts. In September 2019, a California judge found the company’s management guilty of a number of illegal tactics against unions. As Vox reported at the time:
Administrative Judge Amita Tracy identified 12 actions by the company that violate U.S. labor laws. These included security guards harassing workers handing out union brochures in the car park, banning employees from wearing union T-shirts and buttons, repeatedly questioning union organizers and eventually firing one of them.
As one worker told The Guardian in 2018: “Elon Musk says he is neutral with the union […] They were anything but neutral. Anything that is union or pro-union closes very quickly. “Musk himself was also ordered to delete tweets that the National Labor Council (NLRB) found to be a threat to union workers. Tesla is currently appealing the order.