A U.S. labor board has dismissed claims that Tesla illegally fired employees working on Autopilot software at a New York factory to put an end to union organizing.
A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional official on Friday tossed out a complaint filed in February by Workers United, a union seeking to organize workers at Tesla’s Buffalo, New York, “gigafactory.”
Workers United claimed that within days of announcing a union campaign earlier this year, Tesla fired dozens of workers from its Autopilot department. Tesla has said the firings were based on performance reviews and not tied to union activity.
The labor board official, however, found merit to two separate claims that Tesla maintained an unlawful rule on the acceptable use of technology in the workplace and solicited grievances from workers in an attempt to thwart support for the union, NLRB spokeswoman Kayla Blado said on Monday.
If Tesla does not settle those claims, the NLRB will issue a complaint against the company that will be heard by an administrative judge, Blado said.
Tesla and Workers United did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The campaign in Buffalo is part of a nationwide effort to unionize Tesla facilities that has spurred a series of complaints filed with the labor board alleging illegal union-busting.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which recently won new contracts with the Detroit Three automakers, has said that it plans to aggressively organize U.S. auto plants operated by Tesla and other non-unionized companies. President Joe Biden said this month that he supported the union’s efforts to organize workers at Tesla and Toyota.
In April, an NLRB judge ruled that supervisors at a Tesla service center in Florida illegally barred workers from discussing pay and other working conditions and told them not to complain to higher-level managers.
Earlier this month, a U.S. appeals court reversed an NLRB decision that said Tesla violated federal labor law by barring workers at its Fremont, California, assembly plant from wearing UAW T-shirts.
And the same court is separately considering Tesla’s appeal of an NLRB ruling that said CEO Elon Musk violated federal labor law by tweeting in 2018 that employees would lose stock options if they joined a union.
Tesla has denied wrongdoing in those cases.