Tesla CEO Elon Musk was found to have violated federal labor law by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans after tweeting that employees would lose stock options if they joined a union.
The ruling maintained the decision of the US National Labor Relations Board, which concluded that Musk’s tweet constituted an illegal threat that may discourage unionization and ordered him to delete it.
The tweet was made in 2018 during the United Auto Workers (UAW) union’s organizing drive at Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant.
“Nothing is stopping the Tesla crew at our vehicle plant from voting union,” Musk tweeted. “But, why pay union dues and forego stock options for nothing?”
Tesla contended that the tweet about unionizing was not a threat, but rather a reflection of the reality that union members at other automakers were not given stock options.
A three-judge panel, however, disagreed. “Significant evidence supports the NLRB’s judgment that the tweet constitutes an implicit threat to terminate stock options in retribution for unionization,” the panel said in its ruling.