Tesla ban on union shirts violated workers’ rights: NLRB

An aerial view shows the Tesla Fremont Factory in Fremont, California on February 10, 2022.

Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

Tesla violated workers’ rights when it told workers not to wear shirts with pro-union insignia at the factory, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in a decision Monday.

The NLRB is now demanding that the electric vehicle manufacturer Elon Musk “go on strike and refrain from enforcing and enforcing the overly broad team clothing policy that prohibits production workers from wearing black union shirts.”

Tesla will also be required to notify current employees that its “Team Apparel Policy” has been revoked or revised, and to provide a copy of any revised policy.

The decision contradicts a 2019 ruling on the dress code policy at Walmart, which allowed the retail titan to restrict (but not prohibit) employees from wearing pro-union badges at work.

Two members of the labor council disagreed with the Tesla ruling, while three brushed aside the earlier Walmart decision.

The majority wrote, “when an employer interferes in any way with its employees’ right to display union insignia, the employer must prove special circumstances to justify its interference.” Tesla has not demonstrated any special circumstances to justify its policy, the NLRB ruled.

Tesla had previously argued before the NLRB that the dress code was intended to prevent employee clothing from “mutilating” the cars or car seats they were building, and to help managers “easily determine that employees are in their assigned workspaces.” located”. of the company’s factory.

Former Tesla employees had testified to NLRB that Tesla management forced them to remove T-shirts with union messages and United Auto Workers logos, even though they posed no risk of damage to cars or car seats.

The UAW and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Earlier, the NLRB ruled that Tesla CEO Elon Musk violated labor laws when he suggested in a tweet that Tesla employees would have to give up their stock options if they were to unionize. They forced him to delete the offending tweet, but Musk and Tesla appealed that decision.

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