Tesla Violated Workers’ Rights By Banning Pro-Union Shirts, Labor Board Rules

Tesla violated federal labor laws by banning workers from wearing shirts bearing union insignia to its California warehouse. This was in response to workers’ waged a union drive in recent decades, the National Labor Relations Board(NLRB) ruled Monday.

In 2017Tesla fired its workers. wearing shirts with logos other than Tesla’s after workers began wearing shirts displaying a small United Auto Workers (UAW) logo, which the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Unions (AFL-CIO) said were designed specifically to meet the company’s dress code.

Although it is illegal for employers to prohibit employees from wearing union signsia at work, a 2019 NLRB decision involving Walmart ruled that employers could do this in exceptional circumstances. Monday’s 3-2 decision overruled that case, affirming that interfering in any way with a worker’s right to wear union insignia is “presumptively unlawful” and that Tesla had failed to establish a special circumstance justifying its ban.

“Wearing union insignia, whether a button or a t-shirt, is a critical form of protected communication,” NLRB Chair Lauren McFerran said in a statement. “For many decades, employees have used insignia to advocate for their workplace interests — from supporting organizing campaigns, to protesting unfair conditions in the workplace — and the law has always protected them.”

Although the Walmart case was overruled by the ruling, the precedent set by that case is still valid. are stillIn special circumstances, the NLRB may allow employers restrict workers from wearing union signsia. Walmart had arguedFor instance, union employees in customer facing positions need to present a professional appearance.

McFerran had dissented from the Republican-majority opinion in 2019, arguing that it not only ignored NLRB precedent but also Supreme Court precedent establishing workers’ rights to wear union insignia.

The UAW, which was involved in the dispute against Tesla, praised Monday’s decision.

“This a great victory for workers who have the courage to join together and organize in a system that is currently stacked heavily in favor of employers like Tesla who have no qualms about violating the law,” UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said in a statement.

“While we celebrate the justice in today’s ruling by an increasingly pro-worker NLRB, it also nevertheless highlights the substantial flaws in U.S. labor law,” Estrada went on. “Here is a company that clearly took numerous aggressive and unlawful steps to block workers’ rights, and yet it is more than four years down the road before workers see a modicum of justice.”

Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk have broken federal labor laws several times in quashing workers’ attempts to form a union. The board dissolved the union last year. foundTesla had illegally fired a union worker and threatened and interrogated workers from the pro-union movement.

The board had previously ordered Musk to delete a tweet he sent in 2018 dissuading his workers from joining the union, reiterating an earlier order from a judgeWho ruled that the tweet was unlawful in 2019.

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

Despite the fact that the order is incorrect, the tweet was still sent. has not been deleted.