Tesla Is Fighting The National Labor Relations Board Over … A Tweet

Image for article titled Tesla Is Fighting The National Labor Relations Board Over … A Tweet
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

Tesla is getting into it with the National Labor Relations Board, but it’s not about suppressing unions or poor workplace conditions. Actually, wait, it is about that. But it’s also about a tweet. All that and more in The Morning Shift for April 5, 2021.


1st Gear: Elon’s Tweets Must Remain Unconstrained

It will always be interesting to see where a company digs in its heels. These are the issues that are important to that business. In the case of Tesla, Elon being free to tweet whatever he feels like, driving stock prices to a frenzy, is a vital part of the operation. We know this because Tesla is willing to fight about it, as Reuters reports:

The electric-car maker filed a petition on Friday with the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals to review the NLRB’s decision and order issued on March 25.

In the petition, Tesla asked the court to review the order and grant Tesla “any further relief which the Court deems just and equitable.”

Last month, the NRLB ordered Tesla to direct Musk to delete the tweet and to post a notice addressing the unlawful tweet at all of its facilities nationwide and include language that says “WE WILL take appropriate steps to ensure Musk complies with our directive.”

To be fair, the tweet in question wasn’t a Harambe joke or some Dogecoin boost, but Elon claiming that Tesla has no need to union-bust, as it already has a very safe workplace, thank you very much!

2nd Gear: NHTSA Is Pretty Active For An Organization That Owes This Whistleblower $13.7 Million

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was able to press Hyundai and Kia into recalls and a recent $210 million settlement over engines seizing and catching fire. The man responsible was a whistleblower, Kim Gwang-ho. Congress ordered NHTSA to set up a program to pay him for his trouble all the way back in 2015.

How much trouble are we talking about here? It’s a good $13.7 million, as the Wall Street Journal details:

After going public with his concerns, Mr. Kim lost his job, was sued by Hyundai for allegedly leaking business secrets and had his house outside Seoul searched by police. Now, Mr. Kim said he is unsure when or if he will be compensated for the role he says he played in an investigation that led to a record settlement NHTSA reached with the auto maker and sister company Kia Corp. last year for up to $210 million.

“I have hope that all these pains and all these hard days will be finally rewarded,” Mr. Kim, 59, said in an interview, through an interpreter.

Mr. Kim’s lawyers said they believe his payout would be at least $13.7 million, based on the formula laid out by the law, and potentially more were the companies to pay deferred penalties.


The program mandated by Congress has still not been set up, and Kim has still not been paid.

3rd Gear: Italian App Drivers Striking In Most Italian Way Possible

Italy may be the newest battleground for the rights of app drivers, as the Financial Times explains in a new report. While America’s current national work crisis revolves around Amazon workers and drivers peeing in bottles, in Italy, it’s speeding tickets, as the FT details:

Last year, Daniele, a third-party delivery driver for Amazon in Italy, noticed that hundreds of euros in traffic tickets were being deducted from his €1,600 monthly salary. But far from being a careless driver, he claimed, his speeding and parking offences had been necessitated by the company’s demanding schedule.

“We are held hostage by an algorithm which calculates daily routes for us and demands an average of 140 deliveries during an eight-hour shift,” he said during a strike in Castel San Giovanni last week over labour conditions at Amazon. He stood in front of a sign that read: “We are people not packages.”

Amazon Italia rejected the suggestion that delivery providers are put under undue pressure by the company’s algorithm, arguing that its workers are all beneficiaries of national collective bargaining.

Yet, Daniele — who declined to give his surname — insisted that workers “are expected to deliver one package every three minutes. Of course we speed, or park the van on driveways, and then the company makes us pay for the fines.” 


Much as I love the comedy of Italian app drivers demanding that their speeding tickets be covered as a work expense, they do have a point. App drivers work for their apps, they work as employees, they make money for their apps like employees do, but are not treated to the same benefits as employees.

4th Gear: Ford Execs Still Got Pandemic Bonuses

I am not here to judge if any Ford exec deserves a bonus after struggling to launch a handful of cars through the pandemic. I am just here to tell you how much more they’re making, via Automotive News:

Ford Motor Co.’s top executives achieved fewer than a quarter of their performance targets in 2020, down from 54 percent the year before, but the automaker’s compensation committee changed the criteria for bonuses on the fly to reward some leaders for their response to the pandemic.

Jim Hackett, who retired as CEO as of Oct. 1, received the largest pandemic bonus: $1.26 million. His successor, Jim Farley, received $685,330. Executive Chairman Bill Ford — whose accomplishments cited in the company’s proxy filing included being named Industry Leader of the Year by Automotive News — received an extra $405,000.


5th Gear: BMW, Volvo, And Others Oppose Deep-Sea Mining

I do not know if mining the sea floor is the biggest possible issue that faces the world today, but it does scare the shit out of me. A number of companies, BMW and Volvo included, oppose it as well, as the BBC reports:

For years it was only environmental groups that objected to the idea of digging up metals from the deep sea.But now BMW, Volvo, Google and Samsung are lending their weight to calls for a moratorium on the proposals.The move has been criticised by companies behind the deep sea mining plans, who say the practice is more sustainable in the ocean than on land.The concept, first envisaged in the 1960s, is to extract billions of potato-sized rocks called nodules from the abyssal plains of the oceans several miles deep.Rich in valuable minerals, these nodules have long been prized as the source of a new kind of gold rush that could supply the global economy for centuries.


Reverse: I Cannot Imagine What This Was Like


Neutral: How Are You?

Released from Passover restrictions, I feel unbelievable levels of food power coursing through my veins. I will spend today eating a troubling number of bagels.



3rd Gear: Buried Lead

There appears to be a way to get a traffic violation in Italy. This implies there are traffic laws in Italy.

The existance of traffic laws in Italy would change the way we understand the universe. It would be a subject of a James Burke Documentary.