Tesla is accused of union-busting, and with Elon Musk recently taking to Twitter to talk about unionization, a congressman wants the Tesla CEO to answer a few questions.

In a letter sent by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, to Musk on Friday, he addresses Musk’s tweeted thoughts on the matter. The billionaire founder of the electric-car company said nobody is stopping Tesla workers from forming a union, but that “they don’t want to.”

“Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union,” Musk tweeted on May 21. “Could do so tmrw (sic) if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?”

Some people on Twitter interpreted that question as a threat, and so did the congressman. In the letter, Ellison tells Musk he found his comments “troubling,” and wants to “make sure you are fully aware of federal labor law.”

The congressman cited sections of the National Labor Relations Act, including that “Section 8(a)(1) outlaws any employer attempts to ‘interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of rights’ guaranteed by Section 7,” which gives employees the right to unionize.

“I hope that Mr. Musk realizes that retaliation he may take against his workers for trying to form a union isn’t just morally wrong — it’s against the law,” Ellison said in a comment sent to this publication before the letter’s release.

Tesla cut a few hundred employees in October, after which the United Auto Workers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board to complain that some of those employees were workers who had been supportive of forming a union. There’s a June 11 hearing scheduled for the matter before an administrative law judge at Oakland’s NLRB office.

Ellison sent Musk questions that he asked the CEO to answer by June 15. They include:

Will you refrain in the future from threatening your employees with retaliation for exercising federally protected rights, including but not limited to their Section 7 rights to join a union and bargain collectively?

Will you refrain in the future from stating or implying that employees will lose job-related benefits if they choose union representation?

Ellison also asked Musk to explain 13 “injuries added to Tesla’s official injury log for 2017 that were not reported initially,” as reported by news site Reveal. It was when Musk was taking issue with Reveal’s recent article detailing worker-safety issues at Tesla’s Fremont factory that the Tesla CEO made the tweeted comments that got Ellison’s attention.

Tesla has not yet returned a request for comment Friday.


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