NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Automaker Tesla did not violate its employees’ rights to form a union when it ordered workers at a California assembly plant to stop wearing T-shirts with the United Auto Workers logo, a federal appeals court ruled. Told.
The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a 3-2 decision issued last year by the National Labor Relations Board that said Tesla could not ban union attire. The court opinion said Tesla allowed workers to affix “any number or size” of pro-union stickers on company-issued clothing.
“Had Tesla banned the union insignia, we probably would have concluded differently,” said the opinion issued Tuesday by a unanimous panel of three judges of the 5th Circuit.
The Associated Press sent emails to Tesla and the UAW requesting comment.
According to court records, Tesla recently issued special black clothing with the company’s name and logo, called “team wear,” to employees working on painted autos. These clothes are issued to help prevent workers from inadvertently damaging paint that has not completely cured.
According to Rae, some employees began wearing UAW shirts as an option in 2017, with the company stopping the practice after several months.
The NLRB ruled in August 2022 that the practice was an “overly broad” uniform policy and ordered it to stop.
But the appeals panel said company policy did not prevent the union from getting its message across to workers.
Judge Jerry Smith wrote for the panel, “The team wear policy – or a similar policy of any hypothetical company – furthers the employer’s legitimate interest and neither discriminates against union communications nor impairs non-work time.” Is.”
The opinion comes as the 5th Circuit prepares to argue another union-related case involving Tesla, the NLRB and an assembly plant in Fremont, California.
The 5th Circuit panel ruled in March that Tesla CEO Elon Musk unlawfully threatened to take away employees’ stock options in a post on Twitter in 2018 amid a UAW organizing effort. This post was made before Musk purchased the platform and renamed it X.
The panel upheld the NLRB’s order to remove the tweet. But that order was vacated after the full 5th Circuit, which currently consists of 16 full-time judges, voted to hear the case. Hearing is pending in that case.
The panel issuing this week’s decision also included Smith, who was nominated to the appeals court by the late President Ronald Reagan; Leslie Southwick, nominated by former President George W. Bush; and Stephen Higginson, nominated by former President Barack Obama.