Elon Musk Ordered to Delete Anti-Union Tweet – But for Now, It’s Still Live

The National Labor Relations Board ordered Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk– a.k.a., the ‘Technoking’ — to delete a tweet they say “threatened employees if they selected the Union as their representative,” according to court documents.

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The May 20, 2018 tweet, which as of publication was still live, reads as follows: “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.”

Screenshot taken March 26, 2021.

“By tweeting on the @elonmusk Twitter account that the Respondent’s employees would lose their stock options if they chose the Union as their representative, Musk unlawfully threatened the Respondent’s employees in a manner viewable by the public without any limitations,” according to the court filings. “Moreover, the parties stipulated that the @elonmusk account has approximately 22,700,000 Twitter followers and that Musk’s unlawful tweet was republished and disseminated “via Twitter, Facebook, radio, television, newspapers, news media, and various other print and social media platforms.”

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Musk, in addition to being ordered to post a notice “addressing all of its unfair labor practices at its Fremont, California facility,” is also ordered to post a notice addressing that violation at its facilities nationwide.

The counsel for the NLRB argued in court documents that as a prominent public figure, the impact of his unlawful tweet “is big and far reaching.”

The NLRB also found that Tesla illegally terminated a union supporter, disciplined another union supporter for engaging in protected activity, and interrogated others for speaking out about workplace injuries. As such, Tesla is also to reinstate the fired employee with backpay.

Following the NLRB’s decision, the Union Auto Workers, which brought the suit, said that the decision was “a great victory.”

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“This is a great victory for workers who have the courage to stand up and organize in a system that is currently stacked heavily in favor of employers like Tesla who have no qualms about violating the law,” said UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, Director of the UAW Organizing Department in a statement. “While we celebrate the justice in today’s ruling, it nevertheless highlights the substantial flaws in US labor law.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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