Tesla CEO Elon Musk mocks UAW, slams union over corruption



Tesla CEO Elon Musk — the world’s wealthiest man — mocked the United Auto Workers union, one of the largest labor groups in the country, over corruption allegations that have plagued the organization for years.

“New UAW slogan: ‘Fighting for their right to steal money from workers!’” Musk tweeted Wednesday.

Musk’s remark came in response to an article detailing charges brought earlier Wednesday by federal prosecutors against Tim Edmunds, a former UAW official in Michigan, who allegedly embezzled millions of dollars and spent it on “gambling, guns and cars.”

Edmunds is the 16th person charged in the sprawling corruption scandal that’s plagued the UAW in recent years.

Brian Rothenberg, a union spokesman, pushed back on Musk’s characterization of the UAW, saying that it was the union’s own internal auditors who rooted out the allegations against Edmunds.

Elon standing in front of a screen picturing a Tesla vehicle.
Tesla’s workforce is not unionized, with Musk personally opposing unionization efforts in the past.
dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

“The UAW reforms are what found the issue,” he said, adding that the union announced the discovery of the alleged embezzling last month.

Musk has a contentious past with unions.

Tesla’s workforce isn’t unionized and in 2017, the UAW filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of hundreds of Tesla factory workers who were fired from the assembly plant, alleging that the workers were unfairly targeted for being pro-union.

Earlier this year, the NLRB ruled that Tesla violated labor laws when it fired one union activist and again when Musk tweeted: “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?”

The federal agency ordered Musk to delete the tweet.

Cellphone showing UAW logo with US flag behind the phone.
There are more than 600 local unions in the UAW, according to the UAW website.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Elon Musk
Musk has said he’s not stopping Tesla workers from unionizing, but does dislike unions.
dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

More recently, Musk has found himself at odds with the pro-union Biden administration. In September, he railed against President Joe Biden, accusing him of bias against Tesla and saying that the current administration appears to be “controlled by unions.”

Musk pointed specifically to an electric vehicle event hosted at the White House in August, to which Tesla — which sells more electric cars in the US than any other auto maker — wasn’t invited.

“Biden held this EV summit — didn’t invite Tesla. Invited GM, Ford, Chrysler, and UAW [United Auto Workers Union]. An EV summit at the White House. Didn’t mention Tesla once, and praised GM and Ford for leading the EV revolution,” Musk said at the time.


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