Tesla must not ban employees from wearing union T-shirts


Elon Musk

According to reports, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Monday ruled that Tesla must not prohibit employees from wearing T-shirts with union badges in the factory. This is because banning it violates the rights of the person. The NLRB asked Elon Musk’s electric car company to “stop maintaining and enforcing an overly broad team dress policy that prohibits production personnel from wearing black union shirts.”

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The NLRB also requires Tesla to notify employees of the cancellation or modification of the “Team Dress Policy” and provide a copy of the modified policy. The decision contradicts a 2019 ruling on Walmart’s dress code. The ruling at the time allowed Walmart to restrict (but not prohibit) employees from wearing clothing with union badges on the job.

Tesla is strongly against unionism

Two NLRB commissioners opposed the Tesla ruling, and three previously opposed the Walmart ruling.

“When an employer interferes in any way with an employee’s right to display a union badge, the employer must justify the particular circumstances they are in to justify the interference,” the majority commissioner wrote. Tesla did not justify it in this special environment.

Tesla has previously told the NLRB that the company’s clothing policy is designed to prevent employees’ clothing from scratching the car or seat they’re putting together, and to help managers easily determine whether employees are in the work area they should be in. Former Tesla employees have testified at the NLRB that Tesla executives once asked them to remove T-shirts bearing the UAW emblem and slogan. However, these garments did not actually pose a risk to the car and seat.

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As of now, there is no official comment from the UAW or Tesla regarding NLRB’s stand. Elon Musk is strongly against unionism. He previously said that if Tesla employees were to unionize, they would need to give up stock options. The NLRB ruled that Musk’s move violated U.S. labour law and forced him to delete the tweet.

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