back to article SpaceX snaps back at US labor board's complaint, calling it 'unconstitutional'

SpaceX has sued America's National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency responsible for protecting private sector employees' rights, just 24 hours after the body accused Elon Musk's company of treating employees unfairly. In a complaint [PDF] filed yesterday, SpaceX claimed the NLRB was "regulated by …

  1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    Not a case you'd file if you thought you were likely to win the argument on it's merits.

    That said, I recognise it's part of a widespread drive to declare every U.S. regulator unconstitutional. "I'm rich. There should be no constraint on my action or my ability to make more money."

    1. Lurko

      I can only imagine how much richer people like the Muskerbergs would be if rather than picking childish yet complex and expensive fights with regulators, they instead worked with regulators, and applied their prodigious energy and resources to do something worthwhile.

      Perhaps I'm seeing it wrong, and flying Twitter into a mountainside at full throttle is worthwhile. Zuck should try that with FB.

    2. veti Silver badge

      "Merits" have nothing to do with it. Musk doesn't expect to win this, nor does he care. The whole point is to be seen to be fighting, regardless of the outcome. That's money in the bank to him.

      Trump showed the way. The man has lost something like 95% of all the lawsuits he's ever been involved in, and yet he keeps flinging them at anyone and everything and getting richer. In Trump's case it's because (now) gullible idiots line up to send him money, but before that they were buying his books and sponsoring his TV shows and attending his "university"...

      Musk's version is not quite as direct, yet. But he knows fighting the good fight - or rather, being seen to fight it - is worth money from the category of capitalist cunts that he relies on to keep his billions flowing. "Winning the case" - bah, who even cares?

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      That said, I recognise it's part of a widespread drive to declare every U.S. regulator unconstitutional. "I'm rich. There should be no constraint on my action or my ability to make more money."

      They are fighting to go back to the age of the robber barons, the very reason most of the regulators exists in the first place.

      1. rg287

        They are fighting to go back to the age of the robber barons, the very reason most of the regulators exists in the first place.

        We're living through a new Gilded Age. We're past time for the FTC to do some trust-busting, alongside a union renaissance for workers rights, health and safety, etc. Given that a non-trivial portion of Americans still want to vote for Trump though, things seem likely to get worse before they get better. Sooner or later though, the shared Stockholm Syndrome will be broken and people will stop worshipping billionaires - at least for a little while.

        Then we get a reset, things get better, everyone forgets why, and so the wheel turns.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      It's going to be interesting to see what SCOTUS does with Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce and Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo. Thomas and Gorsuch, at least, have already signaled a desire to use those cases to gut, or at least limit, Chevron, on which much of the force of the regulatory agencies' powers rests.

      Arguments come in on 17 January. Jackson recused herself from Loper, which is not great if you think the government should have some power to regulate.

      There's also Murray v. UBS Securities, which is narrower but may restrict the SEC's interpretation of some aspects of SarbOx.

      For all of Roberts' talk about stare decisis, this is a court which has not been particularly reluctant to override earlier SCOTUS decisions they don't like. 2024 could be a good year for jurisprudence for the rich.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Stare decisis went out the window when Roe vs Wade was overturned. These judges are now unelected legislators.

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    The board, if you cast your mind, slapped SpaceX with a complaint on Wednesday that alleged the rocket company had unlawfully dismissed workers for being critical of Elon Musk, when they penned an open letter denouncing the free speech advocate.

    That's too funny. Элон Муск must be talking with Putin too much.

  3. wolfetone Silver badge

    Space Karen Strikes Again.

  4. Spazturtle Silver badge

    As much as I hate the man (from long before he purchased Twitter), firing somebody for publicly insulting the owner of the company and demanding that the COO denounce the owner is normal and expected.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > publicly insulting the owner of the company

      "Open letter" doesn't mean "publicly accessible". As far as I can tell, the letter was kept internal to SpaceX when it was sent to the board. It only made light of day outside of the company because someone leaked it to the press.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It may be normal in fhe US, but the customs of that country are not immutable laws of nature. They're merely the result of pushing capitalism to an extreme.

        I'm fortunate enough to live in a country where you can still do such things legally, and to work in a US company where I can witness the mandatory happiness that's spread from the top management. Nothing else than a cheerful and positive attitude is allowed, reporting risks is frowned upon and quickly dismissed.

      2. rg287

        Publicly mouthing off would indeed be sackable - most contracts do have a clause about not publicly bad-mouthing the company.

        However, sending an internal memo to the COO raising concerns about the erratic behaviour of the CEO and whether the CEO is tarnishing the reputation of the company is - in most developed nations - not a sackable offence. Albeit it will often be career-limiting (in ways which are very hard to prove, even where constructive dismissal is unlawful).

        Is the USA a developed nation? I guess we'll find out.

    2. Orwelldesign

      Yes, it is absolutely normal that a "free speech absolutist" fires people for their speech. Musk's in Texas and I *swear* I could smell the hypocrisy from the San Antonio airport.

      "Hey, is the CEO bound by space-x policies? Or just the peons?" is a valid question. Musk is undoubtedly creating a hostile work environment. Hence this legal action.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't forget that nobody saw EM at his desk at Space X for years now, so by the rules he set up he should be fired (people are supposed to spend a minimum of 40 hours a week at the office or be terminated).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Entitled rich dicks like Musk are fully onboard with the right wing ploy to sabotage any regulatory agency that gets between their grubby little hands and a payday.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Funny how many people, especially from tech sector think it is somehow going to benefit them. Like they have this dream that one day they will save enough money to start their own business and they will enjoy the lack of regulation, their fiefdom fighter Elon won for them and as a result make more money as they won't have to spend on compliance.

      The reality is that if there will be a corner of the market they will be able to enter, the big corporations sniffing profit will eat them for breakfast.

  6. StudeJeff

    Administrative State

    While I have no strong opinions on any of these individual cases we do have a real problem with out of control Executive Branch agencies.

    All too often these agencies come up with rules that are, at the very least, strange interpretations of the laws they purport to enforce. Then they punish people and companies for violating those rules.

    The current administration is especially bad about this, and at least one of it's decrees, from the EPA about CO2, got slapped down by the Supreme Court last year, as well it should have been. Regardless of whither the rule was a good idea or not Congress never passed a law authorizing the EPA to issue such a law, which makes it unconstitutional.

    If the entity being punished fights back it can be very expensive... the agency has the feds unlimited credit card... and the agencies myrmidons and fellow travelers in the media will prattle away about who the entity is anti environment/woman/children/democracy/worker... or whatever.

    Plus, some of these agencies, notably the SEC, have their own courts, which amazingly find for the agency well over 90% of the time.

    What some are calling the Administrative State is out of control, needs to be slapped down HARD, and hopefully these cases will help do that.

    Then maybe Congress will be forced to do ITS job and write clear and specific laws.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Administrative State

      Everything you said was wrong and I award you no points and may god have mercy on your soul.

      1. Lurko

        Re: Administrative State

        Everything you said was wrong and I award you no points and may god have mercy on your soul.

        Actually, not all of it was by a long shot. I work for a UK regulator, and a very, very common problem is that the legislature pass huge volumes of confusing, complex, poorly worded, sometimes contradictory laws, and then the regulators have to try and work out what they're supposed to do, and how they're supposed to do it. That leads to unintended consequences, complexity for business, and to legal disputes where the interpretation of the law has to be decided by the higher courts - and in the worst cases the courts themselves struggle to interpret the legislation.

    2. EricM

      Re: Administrative State

      No law is perfect.

      And yes, it can be complex to interpret.

      And yes, it may codify things you do not support/accept.

      However, that does not make the law or the agencies that enforce it unconstitutional.

      Neither does that allow a private company to ignore the law.

      And I assume that no one else at SpaceX but Musk really thinks this suit is a bright idea - even if no one might dare to voice that concern out of fear of being fired, too.

      With this case SpaceX starts to feel the effects of Musk's detoriating leadership, which may well damage SpaceX reputation and business.

      After all those guys demanding separation between SpaceX and Musk had a very valid point...

    3. rg287

      Re: Administrative State

      Regardless of whither the rule was a good idea or not Congress never passed a law authorizing the EPA to issue such a law...

      That is literally the point of executive branch agencies. If Congress had to write out every single rule and regulation as primary legislation, nothing would ever get done anywhere by anybody. They do not have the bandwidth to deal with that much business. Do you really want Congress to have to issue a law approving each individual model of car as being suitable for sale, because it's "unconstitutional" for the NHTSA to set safety standards and approve (or reject) models. That's what you're asking for. For your Senators and Representatives to be arguing in Congress about whether the 2025 Canyonero is safe or not.

      No one in Congress has the expertise to - for instance - define what a safe level of heavy metals is in drinking water. But the EPA do, so their experts issue a rule on it. That's the point - Congress gives executive agencies a mandate and sets them off to cover <field>.

      ...which makes it unconstitutional.

      No. No it doesn't.

      1. StudeJeff

        Re: Administrative State

        The courts have ruled, properly, that if a proposed rule has a significant impact outside of what was in the law passed by Congress than it's not a valid rule.

        The EPA can enact a rule limiting tailpipe emissions (to a point), but it cannot issue a rule outlawing ICE vehicles without an act of Congress authorizing it to do so. And if the automakers weren't so dependent on the feds and with their (now fading) dream of pots of gold from electric cars they would be suing the EPA for overstepping its authority.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "SpaceX has sued America's National Labor Relations Board"

    Good luck with that.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: "SpaceX has sued America's National Labor Relations Board"

      Normally I'd say it's just a stalling tactic, but considering SCOTUS will shortly be considering two cases with an eye to further stripping power from regulatory agencies (see my post in an earlier thread), it actually has a prayer, depending on how long they can delay the inevitable appeal. A circuit court might well wait for the SCOTUS decisions on Relentless and Loper.

  8. Someone Else Silver badge

    Dear Elon (you ignorant slut):

    Some points:

    1) The NRLB has been regulating and enforcing the U.S. labor laws for well over a century. During that time, the courts have supported this function.

    2) If you run a business in the U.S. that is required to follow said labor laws, the NRLB is the enforcement arm. Get over it.

    3) Just because you don't like something, doesn't make it "unconstitutional".

    4) The Gilded Age ended long before you were born. You would dearly love to be YAN Robber Baron, but you're too late. Again, get over it.

    5) Your tRump-wannabee-ism is showing. Again. Some more.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Dear Elon (you ignorant slut):

      Wait till the Sweden syndicates learn of this, they will work with other Nordics to prevent SpaceX garbage from flying over them.

    2. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: Dear Elon (you ignorant slut):

      I'd argue that we're living in a second Gilded Age of American oligarchs who act as if they are above the law. I'd also argue that we're getting close to the end stage where the workers have finally had enough and start rising up against the oligarchs.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Dear Elon (you ignorant slut):

        Since ~half the US population appears to have decided that an authoritarian con-man bully is the better alternative, I don't think that "rising up" will do us any favors.

  9. aerogems Silver badge

    Where To Even Begin

    Where do Trump and Xitler find these fools? How many law school registrars are, as I write this and you read it, feverishly trying to scrub all traces of having ever conferred a degree on these idiots?

    Others have covered most of the obvious counterarguments to Xitler's crack (as in, smoking it) legal team, but the fact that NLRB rulings can be appealed to a federal court pretty much destroys their central thesis. Even if we accept that they are unable to get a fair hearing in front of the NLRB, they can appeal that ruling to a federal court where the judge is not employed by the NLRB.

    1. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: Where To Even Begin

      Where do Trump and Xitler find these fools?

      It's said that in America you're never more than a metreyard away from a lawyer.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Where To Even Begin

        "It's said that in America you're never more than a metreyard away from a lawyer."

        The bar is set really low.

        1. Not Yb Bronze badge

          Re: Where To Even Begin

          Judging by some of the people who have passed the bar exam, it must be much easier than I thought.

          1. aerogems Silver badge

            Re: Where To Even Begin

            It's like the old joke: What do you call the person who graduates last in their class at medical school? Doctor.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Where To Even Begin

      Where do Trump and Xitler find these fools?

      There are strategies under which this is a good tactic — particularly at this historical moment. Even if it had no chance of succeeding (and that's by no means certain in 2024), it's a way to exhaust the NLRB and the employees it's representing, and push for arbitration or a settlement.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Where To Even Begin

        That might work if you're working for someone like Microsoft and suing some <100 employee company, but when you're going up against a government agency... the employees there are likely already soulless husks who have already seen every kind of mind game you can think of and become completely inured to it.

  10. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

    The Musk-originated companies really need to clue in to the fact that "I don't like it" doesn't translate to "unconstitutional" by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe stop relying on ChatGPT as your "source."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually he uses his own Tesla AI.

      That's why they pile into the back of fire trucks - they are too distracted from driving by having to invent fatuous excuses for "da boss"

      Natural Machine Intelligence: just as easily distracted by an idiot as meatsacks

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "The Musk-originated companies really need to clue in to the fact that "I don't like it" doesn't translate to "unconstitutional" by any stretch of the imagination. "

      Some spoiled brats yell and stamp their feet because experience has taught them their parents will give in just to shut them up. The same sort of thing goes for people that pull the Sov Citizen crap. It doesn't always work, but it does enough that people will continue to try it. Elon makes outrageous statements in defense of his bad behavior since, thus far, he's been getting away with just about everything. When he isn't given a free pass, the penalty isn't usually a big deal (Twitter was the first big fail).

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      "I don't like it" doesn't translate to "unconstitutional" by any stretch of the imagination

      Try telling that to Clarence Thomas.

  11. DS999 Silver badge

    I guess Musk is hiring from the same wading pool

    For bottom feeding lawyers that try to argue irrelevant or stupid points to try to delay and distract the case for as long as possible.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well obviously the US government has absolutely no sovereignty over the First Lord of Mars. At an absolute minimum he and all of his embassy staff have diplomatic immunity.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Are you sure? The US has been sending a lot of robotic overlords their way. Maybe we need AmanfromMars to confirm?

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Maybe we need AmanfromMars to confirm?

        Said nobody sane ever..

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Who says I'm sane? I'm an idiot.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rules are for fools

    Not rich people!

  14. 45RPM Silver badge

    Once again, Musk convinces me that he’s a man without merit, a person with nothing worthwhile to offer the world. Other people, working for him, invent the cool technology and he just pops up to claim the credit.

    That’s not to say that I think none of the technology from his businesses comes from the brain of this overtartrazined manchild. If it’s harmful, doesn’t work properly or pointless then I think we all know where to place the credit.

  15. zebm

    Didn't they spam everyone?

    How do you organise people to sign an open letter without using a spam e-mail? Were they actually fired for misuse of the e-mail system?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Elmo should lay off the drugs

    Or hurry up and get to Mars.

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