A Swedish appeals court handed Tesla a legal defeat this week, upholding postal workers’ right to strike and refuse delivery of license plates to the electric automaker, ruling represents the latest salvo in an escalating battle between unions and Tesla over collective bargaining agreements.
At issue is a sympathy strike by PostNord workers who are allied with Swedish labor union IF Metall, union launched a strike in October over Tesla refusing to negotiate wages and conditions for mechanical staff at its facilities.
In solidarity, PostNord postal workers initiated a blockade on license plate shipments to Tesla, creating a pinch point for registrations. Tesla sued to compel deliveries, but a lower court sided with the union’s right to strike. An appeals court affirmed that finding this week.
While the postal blockade has complicated deliveries, Swedish media reports Tesla has adapted by requiring buyers to self-order their license plates. This circumvents dependence on PostNord for registrations.
Regardless, union leaders hailed the ruling as an important win for worker’s rights. Gabriella Lavecchia, president of Seko which organizes PostNord employees, called the decision “the only reasonable conclusion, that the constitutionally protected right to strike takes precedence over Tesla’s interests.”
The PostNord action is just one front in organized labor’s clashes with Tesla’s anti-union stance. In addition to Swedish workers striking, German unions have protested conditions at Tesla’s Berlin gigafactory, demanding wage parity for Eastern staff.
Tesla has adamantly resisted unionization efforts, insisting its above-average pay and benefits make collective bargaining unnecessary. But cracks may be showing as worker dissatisfaction boils over in Sweden and beyond.
If more courts side with unions over Tesla, the company could face growing pressure to negotiate collective agreements, at least in Europe. This outcome would align Tesla with the wider auto industry’s acceptance of organized labor as partners, not adversaries.
For now, Elon Musk shows little willingness to acquiesce, but the Swedish ruling demonstrates courts view strikes as protected civil liberties regardless of Tesla’s ambitions.