Twitter Fallout: Musk's UAW Tweet Leaves Him Wide Open, Says Ex-NLRB Head
Each day brings new reasons why no one should ever waste their precious earthly moments on Twitter, yet many of us keep up the practice. If we’re not seen doing things on social media, are we really alive? Are we really part of modern society?
Maybe that’s a discussion best left for another time. Regardless, heated back-and-forths on publicly visible platforms have a way of complicating one’s life, and a former National Labor Relations Board head claims Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s recent tweetstorm could land him in hot water.
It’s no secret that Musk prefers his Fremont, California assembly plant to remain untouched by union representation. Increased labor costs, work stoppages due to labor action — the beancounter-type reasons for any automaker to avoid the UAW are obvious. The CEO has made his view of the United Auto Workers pretty clear, especially in light of recent organizing attempts and the resulting fallout.
Still, it seems Musk felt it wasn’t clear enough.
When asked about his view on unions via Twitter Monday, Musk replied, “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? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets healthcare.”
He followed it up with, “Also, UAW did nada for job security in last recession. Dropped Fremont like a hot potato to protect their core base in Detroit. UAW *chose* to exit this plant before Tesla even arrived. We had nothing to do with UAW leaving, but everything to do with why people here have jobs.”
The Fremont plant was formerly home to General Motors, and later a UAW-represented GM-Toyota joint assembly plant, before GM’s bankruptcy left it in limbo. Tesla purchased it in 2010, but its brief partnership with Toyota went nowhere. The Japanese automaker sold off the last of its Tesla shares last year.
Shortly after Musk posted his reply, the UAW joined the online fray. The union replied with a link to a 2017 NLRB hearing.
The eyebrows raised by that earlier tweet were numerous, with some saying it contained a veiled threat to dissuade workers from organizing. Wilma Liebman, former chair of the NLRB, told Bloomberg, “If you threaten to take away benefits because people unionize, that’s an out-and-out violation of the labor law.”
Musk would have been better off claiming union bargaining could erode some of their benefits, she added.
It seems Musk didn’t need the advice to cover his ass. Yesterday afternoon, when asked by a Twitter user with “Champagne socialist” in his bio whether he’d take away benefits from unionized workers, Musk responsed:
No, UAW does that. They want divisiveness & enforcement of 2 class “lords & commoners” system. That sucks. US fought War of Independence to get *rid* of a 2 class system! Managers & workers shd be equal w easy movement either way. Managing sucks btw. Hate doing it so much.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 22, 2018
A couple of hours later, Musk challenged his questioner’s viewpoints, saying that perhaps he should explore just how much support the UAW has among Tesla’s workforce. “Let’s hold a vote & find out,” he tweeted.
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- Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
- Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
- Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
- Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
- William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
Let me fix that for you The Truth about (Tesla) Cars: “Each day brings new reasons why no one should ever waste their precious earthly moments on Tesla...”
UAW membership will change the Tesla deathwatch to a Tesla death spiral.