Last week, House Democrats introduced a new bill that would incentivize purchases of electric vehicles made at facilities with American unions with a $4,500 bonus. Elon Musk — you know, the billionaire who runs a large-scale, non-unionized EV operation — hasn’t taken kindly to that plan.
In a reply to a tweet about the new bill, Musk wrote that it must’ve been written by lobbyists for Ford and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. “Not obvious how this serves American taxpayers,” he tweeted, along with a link to a Bloomberg article about Ford’s EV production facility in Mexico.
There is no evidence that either Ford or the UAW actually worked on the new bill. Musk’s baseless accusations are pretty much par for the course here. And the Tesla CEO has always been vocally opposed to unionization. Of course he’d tweet something like this.
Musk hates unions — The motivations for Musk’s tweet couldn’t be more obvious. That’s because Elon Musk, a man who has long profited off the dedicated work of his factory workers and other employees, hates unions. Not just dislikes them — hates them enough to engage in explicitly anti-union activities.
Back in 2019, a federal judge ruled that Tesla’s practices and a particularly egregious tweet from Musk had broken the National Labor Relations Act. Musk threatened and retaliated against employees interested in unionization, all the while tweeting that there was “nothing stopping” the Tesla team from unionizing, if they wanted to.
In the same breath, Musk slipped in a fascinating little insider tidbit: unionizing would forfeit an employee’s stock options. The National Labor Relations Board just this year ordered Musk to delete that tweet and re-hire the employee fired for union activity.
Tesla doesn’t need the help anyway — Like all of his vendettas, Musk’s concerns here are incredibly misplaced. If Musk feels left out by incentives that apply only to carmakers with American unions, there’s a very elegant solution Musk could implement to remedy it. All he has to do is stop union-busting.
And anyway, Tesla already has the largest share of the EV market. It doesn’t need consumer incentives. Musk is just being greedy.
Honda and Toyota each released official statements disparaging the bill as well. Toyota said the bill discriminates “against American autoworkers based on their choice not to unionize.”
In a larger context, the new bill is an effort to push toward Joe Biden’s goal that 50 percent of all American vehicle sales be all-electric by 2030. It’s also meant to boost union jobs in the U.S. If Toyota, Honda, and Tesla want in on that incentive track, they might want to look into incentivizing their workers to join a union.