Tesla Reportedly Spies On Workers Who Discuss Unions And Harassment

Tesla employees have accused the company of spying on their social media activities, and a report has uncovered evidence that PR agencies were paid to monitor them. Invoices from 2017 and 2018 indicate that the agency MWW PR was hired to investigate an employee Facebook group, with a particular focus on monitoring workers who spoke about sexual harassment and unionization efforts.

This was at a time when Tesla workers were attempting to organize – something Elon Musk was and still is vocally against. Now, with workers' rights at Tesla back in the news, employees reveal that they believe they are being monitored yet again.

The report, courtesy of CNBC, contains testimony from workers who say they were affected by the surveillance. Three employees say they were told not to join a Tesla Facebook group unless they personally knew every member, so they could avoid being spied on by bosses. Two others, who are still at Tesla, say that it is accepted that higher-ups monitor their social media activity. This is on top of evidence that MWW PR was specifically hired to monitor discussions on a sexual harassment lawsuit facing Tesla, and the workers' ongoing unionization efforts.

These workers shared Tesla's most up-to-date communications policy with CNBC, revealing that it grants bosses the ability to monitor social media posts if there is a "distinct business reason why they must do so". Workers are also told not to discuss their workplace grievances online. CNBC reports that these workers are contractually barred from making "critical public statements" about Tesla on top of this.

In response to the report, MWW PR did not comment on the surveillance conducted on union organizers, but does seem to try and distance itself from it. "MWW consulted with Tesla in 2017-2018 on a broad employee communications engagement during a period of rapid growth at the Company", a statement reads. "It is a common practice to review media coverage and public social conversation about a company to gain insights into issues and perceptions of stakeholders about the brand."

Previous union busting activity at Tesla includes unlawfully firing a worker. Elon Musk was also found to have personally acted illegally when he took to Twitter to threaten employees who unionized.

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