The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rep. Ellison Grills Elon Musk on Anti-Union Threats

Rep. Ellison also asks about an April 2018 investigation that found Tesla underreported workplace injuries at its Fremont, California plant


Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) today sent a letter to Tesla CEO Elon Musk regarding his comments on May 21, 2018, which appear to threaten employees at Tesla's Fremont, California plant with retaliation for engaging in legally protected union activity.

"Workers at a company with as many workplace health and safety issues as Tesla could benefit greatly from forming a union," said Rep. Ellison. "I am concerned by Mr. Musk's tweets, which appear to be in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act."

In a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, the United Auto Workers (UAW) allege that Mr. Musk violated the National Labor Relations Act in one of his tweets where he appears to threaten Tesla employees who engage in union organizing with the revocation of their employee stock options.

The tweet follows a series of anti-worker incidents in Mr. Musk's workplaces. In October, the UAW alleged that Tesla had intimidated and eventually fired workers at the Fremont plant who were supportive of unionization. An investigation by Reveal found that the rate of serious injuries at the Fremont plant was 30 percent worse than the 2016 industry average, and that the number of workplace injuries at the plant had been undercounted in Tesla's official log.

Rep. Ellison's letter notes the findings of the Reveal investigation, and asks Mr. Musk a series of questions including:

1. Will you refrain in the future from threatening your employees with retaliation for exercising federally protected rights, including but not limited to their Section 7 rights to join a union and bargain collectively?

2. Will you refrain in the future from stating or implying that employees will lose job-related benefits if they choose union representation?

3. Will you refrain in the future from adverse action against an employee for choosing to join or support a union?

4. Regarding the health and safety record at the Tesla plant, will you explain the thirteen injuries added to Tesla's official injury log for 2017 that were not reported initially?

Read the Full Letter [PDF]

Rep. Keith Ellison has represented the Fifth Congressional District of Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives since taking office on January 4, 2007. The Fifth Congressional District is the most vibrant and diverse district in Minnesota with a rich history and traditions. The Fifth District includes the City of Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs.