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Tesla ordered to have Elon Musk delete anti-union tweet


Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and chief executive officer of Tesla, waves while arriving to a discussion at the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday, March 9, 2020.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The National Labor Relations Board has decided that Tesla violated labor laws when it fired a union activist, and when CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter in 2018: “Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?”

Among other things, the federal agency has directed Tesla to ask Musk to remove his offending tweet, and to offer a job back to the terminated employee, Richard Ortiz. Tesla must also compensate Ortiz for loss of earnings, benefits and adverse tax consequences that resulted from his firing.

The employee was part of an organizing campaign, “Fair Future at Tesla.” At the time of the campaign, Tesla said its business should stay union-free. But Musk’s public comments on his Twitter account, where he has tens of millions of followers, were seen as threatening. Tesla considers Elon Musk tweets to be official company communication, as disclosed in its financial filings.

News of the decision was previously reported by Bloomberg, and confirmed by the United Auto Workers, which brought the suit. UAW said it was preparing a statement, and Tesla was not immediately available to comment.

Thursday’s decision was in line with one from September 2019 by an administrative law judge, who had considered the complaint before. Tesla appealed that all the way to the full board.

Read the NLRB’s full decision and order here.

This story is developing — please check back for updates.

CNBC’s Michael Wayland contributed to this report.

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