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March 3, 2022 3:10 PM, EST

Musk Invites UAW to Hold Organizing Vote at Factory

Elon MuskElon Musk and his fan base have been upset with President Biden, who rarely mentions Tesla when he talks about electric vehicles. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via Associated Press)

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DETROIT — Elon Musk is inviting the United Auto Workers union to hold an organizing vote at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif.

On Twitter March 2, Musk wrote that he invited the union to hold a vote at its convenience. “Tesla will do nothing to stop them,” he wrote.

The UAW wouldn’t comment March 3 but spokesman Brian Rothenberg pointed out that Tesla is fighting a U.S. National Labor Relations Board ruling from last year that found the company and Musk engaged in unfair labor practices in 2018, partly because of his tweets.

Musk’s recent tweets seem to be part of an escalating fight with federal regulatory agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons by Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Musk’s March 2 tweet about the union came as a followup to one from Gene Simmons, the frontman for the rock band Kiss, who was supporting Musk in a twitter spat with President Joe Biden over electric vehicle manufacturing.

Biden had tweeted on March 1 about Ford and General Motors spending a total of $18 billion to create 15,000 jobs building electric vehicles. Musk replied that Tesla had created over 50,000 U.S. jobs building electric vehicles and is investing more than GM and Ford combined.

Simmons wrote that Musk had a “solid point” and questioned if Biden avoids mentioning Tesla because the company isn’t unionized. Unions have strongly supported Biden, and the UAW endorsed him in 2020.

Musk and his fan base have been upset with the president, who rarely mentions Tesla when he talks about electric vehicles and has left Musk off the invite list for electric vehicle events at the White House. Biden has long favored “good-paying union jobs,” and workers at Tesla’s plants are not represented by a union.

A year ago, the labor relations board found that in a May 20, 2018, tweet, Musk unlawfully threatened employees with loss of stock options if they chose to be represented by the UAW union.

Board members ordered Tesla to make Musk delete the tweet and stop threatening employees with loss of benefits for supporting a labor organization.

Tesla also was required to post a notice addressing unfair labor practices at the 10,000-worker Fremont plant, and post a notice dealing with the tweet at all its facilities nationwide.

In April 2021, Tesla appealed the NLRB ruling to a federal appeals court in New Orleans.

Among other things, the lengthy March 2021 NLRB ruling also ordered Tesla to reinstate an employee who was fired for union-organizing activity and to give him back pay.

Musk tweeted in May 2018: “Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues and give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets healthcare.”

A message was left March 3 seeking comment from the NLRB.

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