A few weeks ago the employees of the Gigafactory 2, a Tesla plant in Buffalo (New York, USA) announced their intention to form a union with the support of Workers United. Now, they accuse the CEO of the vehicle manufacturer, Elon Musk, of have limited the dissemination of the union on Twitter. Musk has been the owner of this social network since October.
The day after making public the intention to form a union, the account, @united_teslawas blocked so that it does not appear in the search function of Twitter when you type your username.
“In February 2023, immediately after workers announced a union campaign at the Tesla Gigafactory 2 facility, the employer (…), made the union’s Twitter account @united_tesla out shadowbaned from the Twitter platform“, describes the organization in a statement.
A shadowban either ban in the shade is a technique with which social platforms can limit the reach of accounts that can be considered controversial, making their publications less recommended by algorithms or directly making it difficult for other users to search for them directly on the network.
“He shadowban made the union account was less accessible and functionally hidden from the workers and the public on Twitter, thus stopping or discouraging concerted and/or protected union activity,” the letter from these workers states.
Elon Musk has never been very close to the union movement, even threatening employees with losing labor rights. In fact, in 2018 he encouraged that, if there were a union, they would lose options on company shares (stock options).
It so happens that part of the Tesla Autopilot team works in this Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo. An employee of said department is the coordinator of the social networks of the union that he sets up together with his colleagues. His name is Zahra Lahrache and he explains in statements to VICENews how they found out that their organization’s account was being banned.
According to the worker, the account has been removed from search suggestions within Twitter. Thus, even if a user follows the union account, their tweets do not appear for search terms such as “Tesla Workers United” or “united_tesla”.
They point out that this initiative was born to feel heard and now this blocking action reaffirms them on the need for the union to exist.
Elon Musk’s war with the unions
In 2021, the US labor authority already accepted a complaint against Musk for a tweet in which he threatened his unionized employees or with the intention of unionizing with a possible loss of job. stock options. In 2022, for banning the wearing of United Autoworkers T-shirts at Tesla’s Fremont, California facility.
Just one day after the union now filing this brief against Musk came forward, Tesla fired more than 30 employees at the Buffalo facility, including a member of the union’s organizing committee. Following the Twitter purchase, Musk also fired unionized janitors at the social network’s New York office.
However, in a statement on the Tesla website, the company affirms that it is false that there is any relationship between the dismissals and the fact that there is a person affected by them who was forming a union. He points out that the decision for these dismissals had been made before the union campaign began.