Hundreds of SpaceX employees have signed a letter denouncing the behavior of Elon Musk

It took less than a day and a half for more than 400 SpaceX employees to sign an open letter criticizing CEO Elon Musk after it was posted and shared by some of their colleagues in an internal chat. Just 32 hours after it was shared, the document’s internal landing page was taken offline, around the same time a group of employees were fired for their involvement in crafting and sharing the letter, a decision that could have been a labor violation. right.

The open letter was first posted to an internal landing page at noon EST, then shared by a handful of employees in about 10 chat rooms in Microsoft Teams as well as a broadcast list. The content was bold: Employees claimed Musk’s behavior in recent weeks had become an embarrassment and distraction to the company. The letter’s writers suggested ways SpaceX could distance itself from Musk’s presence on Twitter and do better to hold executives and those who commit sexual harassment accountable.

An employee who helped write the letter but wished to remain anonymous claimed that “a large number of employees across a whole host of demographics, roles and levels helped write the letter.” Employees had the option to sign the document by completing a survey or scanning a QR code.

The largest Teams channel where the document was shared had around 2,600 members, largely filled with engineers, while the other Teams channels were relatively small. The editors also planned to distribute a stack of physical copies of the letter, which also contained scannable QR codes, in the production and catering areas. But no one had the courage to distribute them before the shooting began, according to one of those involved. There were also concerns that publishing copies of the letter would be perceived as labor organizing and that cameras in the SpaceX building would reveal who had distributed them. Before the landing page was shut down, the writers saw that they had around 3,000 unique visitors to their site.

While the document eventually got 404 signatures, many more people reached out to those who shared the letter on Signal, in person and via Teams, saying they would sign if they could afford to be fired at the moment. according to one person involved. In 2017, another Musk company, Tesla, fired an employee for distributing flyers encouraging employees to unionize. Additionally, in May of this year, Musk also tweeted that Tesla would form an “unconditional litigation department” to “directly initiate and execute lawsuits.”

Their fears proved credible, as SpaceX management ended up firing at least five employees for their involvement in the letter. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell then emailed the company, denouncing the document and notifying the company of the terminations.

“We have too much critical work to do and no need for this kind of excessive activism – our current leadership team is more dedicated to ensuring we have a great and ever-improving work environment than anything I’ve seen. over my 35-year career,” Shotwell wrote. Echoing the authors of the letter, she asserted that the letter, not Musk’s behavior, was a distraction for SpaceX, which has a busy schedule in the days and weeks ahead.

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment from The edge in time for publication.

Shotwell also argued in his email that other employees not involved in the letter felt uncomfortable, intimidated and coerced into signing the document. However, two of those who wrote it, speaking on condition of anonymity, dispute that claim. They say they simply posted the letter on the Teams channels, directing people there and asking for help.

“There was no pressure on anyone to collect signatures,” said an employee who helped draft the letter, who also wished to remain anonymous. “The open letter is autonomous or not.”

News of the employee layoffs spread throughout the company, and a few current employees expressed to The edge their dismay at the actions taken by the company.

“I feel like in the future, people who don’t agree 100% with Elon will have to shut up or leave the company, which is very sad,” a SpaceX employee said. , who was not involved in the letter. The edge. “We all admire his intelligence but his social behavior is unacceptable, and we find ourselves in a position where we are both proud and ashamed to work for SpaceX.”

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