tesla“In a June 2017 meeting with Tesla employees, CEO Elon Musk solicited their complaints about safety issues and promised to address their concerns, so long as they refrained from trying to organize a union, the National Labor Relations Board alleges.”

Elon Musk is getting on my nerves. We’ve written before about Musk and the health and safety problems he’s having at Tesla motors.  Now we hear the statement above.

There is so much wrong with this Elon Musk statement, I’m not even sure where to start, but let me count the ways.

  1. Workers have a right to organize. It’s the law. For confirmation, Elon can check out the National Labor Relations Act, enacted in 1935 “to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.”
  2. The NLRA forbids employers from threatening workers “with adverse consequences, such as closing the workplace, loss of benefits, or more onerous working conditions, if they support a union.”
  3. Workers have the right to a safe workplace. It’s the law. For confirmation, Musk can check out the Occupational Safety and Health Act, passed in 1970, to “assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions.” Oh, and which requires employers to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
  4. Section 11(c) of the OSHAct forbids employers from discriminating against employees for exercising their rights under the law.
  5. The bottom line is that the bottom line is not the bottom line: Employees have the right to organize a union AND to come home safe at the end of the workday. They do not have to choose between one or the other.
  6. Finally, to really understand the absurdity of this statement, let’s turn it around.  Telling workers you’ll only deal with their health and safety complaints if they vote against the union is essentially saying “Unless you vote against the union, you will continue to get hurt, sick or killed.”

Employees have the right to organize a union AND to come home safe at the end of the workday. They do not have to choose between one or the other.

Happily this statement — and Musk’s treatment of workers — are subject of investigations by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CalOSHA).

Tesla has denied the claim.

I Feel Your Pain

Meanwhile, in order to relate to his employee’s working conditions, Musk has been sleeping on the floor of his factory.


According to a July 8 interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, “The reason I sleep on the floor was not because I couldn’t go across the road and be at the hotel. It was because I wanted my circumstance to be worse than anyone else at the company on purpose. Like whatever pain they felt, I wanted mine to be worse. That’s why I did it.”

Yeah, well, that’s nice, but a lot of your workers are experiencing far worse things that aches and pains from sleeping on the floor for a few nights.

If Musk really wants to feel their pain, maybe he needs to experience searing, debilitating headaches from inhaling the fumes of a toxic glue, as Reveal News publicized last April or a crippling back injury. Maybe he needs to help himself to some carpal tunnel syndrome from pulling down a hanging drill “three times a minute for 12 to 16 hours a day…60,000 times a month,” as a Worksafe report last year described. Or maybe he needs to throw himself in front of a skid carrier and break his jaw, as one of his employees did recently.

Until then, we don’t want to hear about him feeling his workers’ pain — or blackmailing them into dropping their union campaign.

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