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Elon Musk dares United Autoworkers to try to unionize Tesla

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is captured this Dec. 1, 2020, file photo,
Hannibal Hanschke
/
AP
SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is captured this Dec. 1, 2020, file photo,

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a vocal union opponent, is now inviting the United Autoworkers to organize his company in an attempt to goad the labor union.

Musk tweeted Thursday that he's able to maintain the Tesla workforce because the company compensates and treats its employees well. Because of this, Musk claimed, he's not worried about union organizing at his company.

"I'd like hereby to invite UAW to hold a union vote at their convenience. Tesla will do nothing to stop them," he tweeted.

Musk was responding to a series of tweets by KISS leader Gene Simmons, who was criticizing President Biden for not mentioning Tesla, a luxury electric carmaker, in his State of the Union address earlier this week. In it, Biden touted Ford and GM's efforts at building electric vehicles. Both automakers are unionized.

Simmons said "The President doesn't mention Tesla, perhaps because Tesla is non-union and moved to Texas, a 'right to work' state. Give Elon Musk/Tesla its due. They are game changers and should be heralded."

Musk responded, saying Tesla hasn't closed its Fremont, Calif., location and has plans of expanding. He went on to say later that Tesla factory workers' compensation, which includes stock options, is the highest in the auto industry.

A spokesman for the UAW declined to comment on Musk's tweets, but referred NPR to an ongoing case in front of the National Labor Relations Board involving Tesla and Musk.

Musk's message to the United Autoworkers comes after years of organizing attempts at the Fremont facility. Since 2017, unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Tesla at the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency in charge of enforcing labor laws and monitoring union organizing drives.

Musk previously got into legal trouble for a tweet he sent in 2018 saying workers could lose their stock options if they unionized. This message was seen as a threat by workers, union activists and a California labor judge. The judge ruled Musk's tweets to be an illegal action against employees' rights to organize.

The UAW and the NLRB has also cited Tesla and Musk for previously firing workers involved in organizing activities, and for other claims.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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