Tesla Notches Major Win in Legal Battle with Workers’ Union

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) recently scored a major win in Europe after a Swedish court ruled that the country’s transport authority must come up with a way to deliver license plates to the American electric car maker. A Norrkoping district court judge ruled that the Swedish Transport Agency should deliver the previously blocked license plates to Tesla within a week or face a 1 million kronor fine ($95,383).

The Texas-based EV maker was forced to file a suit against postal agency PostNord after Swedish postal workers blocked the delivery of license plates as part of industrial action, Reuters reports, frustrating Tesla’s efforts to commercialize new cars. Postal workers from PostNord joined industrial action on Nov. 20, 2023, to compel Tesla to sign a collective bargain agreement for Swedish mechanics.

Citing that it was contractually obligated to deliver parts via PostNord, the Swedish Transport Agency declined to deliver Tesla license plates via alternative means. Elon Musk’s Tesla emerged victorious in this battle when a Swedish court decreed that the nation’s transport agency deliver the plate in seven days. However, the war between Tesla and Swedish labor groups goes on in earnest despite Tesla’s recent win.

An estimated 130 mechanics with Union IF Metall went on strike in late October and have refused to service Tesla units due to the company’s resistance to joining the collective bargaining agreement. This came after a local Tesla subsidiary announced that it would not recognize the worker’s union. The postal union strike has drawn the support of electrician, cleaner and dockworker unions that have also taken action against Tesla in solidarity.

While the IF Metall union states that all companies having collective agreements is critical for the Swedish labor market model, Tesla argues that its employee terms are as good or better than the ones proposed by the union. According to Tesla’s court filing, the Swedish Transport Agency’s decision to not deliver the automaker’s license plates is a “unique attack on a company operating in Sweden.”

The agency says that it is considering appealing the ruling but added that it will have to look for ways to allow Tesla to pick up the license plates, noting that the weeklong deadline provided by the court gave it “very little time.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk called the postal workers’ strike against the company “insane” in a post on social media site X last week, but the company has not officially respond to comments on the recent ruling.

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