Unions are a part of the culture in Europe. Workers’ rights are strong — stronger than anywhere else in the world — and some regulations and benefits are baked into common knowledge and expectations that we can’t even dream of pushing for here in the United States.
There is a big battle underway right now between Tesla and unions in Nordic countries, and it’s a fascinating clash of cultures, with big ramifications. Let’s get into details about what is going on.
The core of it is that employees in Sweden are fighting for a collective bargaining agreement. What’s interesting is that the Finnish transport workers’ union AKT is working in solidarity with the Swedes to block Tesla vehicle imports until an agreement is made, and Norway’s largest private sector union is intending to do the same. This blockades will commence on December 20. Furthermore, one of the largest pension funds in Finland has said that it is going to sell all of its Tesla stock due to the company’s unwillingness to work with the union in Sweden to come to a solution. Denmark’s largest trade union, meanwhile, has expressed sympathy with the strike. Jan Villadsen, chair of Denmark’s 3F Transport union, says the Swedish workers are fighting an “incredibly important battle” and that, “even if you are one of the richest in the world, you can’t just make your own rules.”
Tesla recently sued Sweden’s postal service for refusing to deliver license plates to Tesla, but it lost that lawsuit, strengthening the hand of the unions. “The postal service’s workers blocked Tesla license plate deliveries late last month in a show of solidarity with mechanics striking over the company’s refusal to sign a collective bargaining agreement with employees, which is customary in Sweden,” CNBC reports. “Tesla took legal action while CEO Elon Musk branded the move ‘insane,’ but a Swedish court ruled Thursday that PostNord will not be forced to deliver license plates for now.”
What is especially noteworthy, though, is how much solidarity there is across these Nordic countries to support the Finnish union. “Union members across a host of Swedish industries have joined the secondary strike action with members of trade union IF Metall, who have been embroiled in an ongoing battle with Tesla for around six weeks.”
Overall, Tesla is trying to break the norms of employment and worker rights in the region, and it is such an affront on what is accepted, expected, and desired in these countries that a large conglomeration of groups and peoples are locked arm in arm to take a stand and show their shared values. “Seen in the light of the fact that the conflict is now spreading to Denmark as well as Tesla’s recent very categorical refusal to sign an agreement in any country, we have come to the conclusion that we as investors currently hardly have the opportunity to influence the company. And that is why we are now putting Tesla on our exclusion list,” PensionDanmark added.
Well, we’ll have to see how this ends, but I can’t see any reasonable solution other than Tesla sitting at the table and signing a collective bargaining agreement with IF Metall. I have to think, too, if someone other than Elon Musk was the CEO of Tesla, this agreement would have been signed by now, there wouldn’t be strikes and blockades across various countries, there wouldn’t be lawsuits, and there wouldn’t be pension funds dropping Tesla stock.