It took less than a day and a half for more than 400 SpaceX employees to join an open letter criticizing CEO Elon Musk after being published and shared by some of their colleagues in an internal chat. Just 32 hours after sharing, the internal landing page for the document was taken offline, at about the same time as a group of employees were fired for their participation in the drafting and sharing of the letter, a move that may have been a violation of labor law.
The open letter first went live on an internal landing page at Eastern Lunch, and was then shared by a handful of employees in approximately 10 chat rooms in Microsoft Teams, as well as an email list. The content was bold: the officials said so Musk’s behavior in recent weeks it has become a source of embarrassment and distraction for the company. The authors of the letters offer suggestions on ways in which SpaceX can distance itself from Musk’s presence on Twitter, as well as make it better to hold leaders and those who commit sexual harassment accountable.
An official who helped draft the letter but wished to remain anonymous said that “a large number of employees in a bunch of demographic groups and roles and levels helped write the letter.” Employees were given the opportunity to enter the document by taking part in a survey or scanning a QR code.
The largest Teams channel where the document was shared had approximately 2,600 members, largely full of engineers, while the other Teams channels were relatively small. The writers also had plans to distribute a bunch of physical copies of the letter, which also had QR codes for people to scan around production areas and restaurants. But no one was brave enough to hand them out before the shootings began, according to one of the people involved. There were also fears that the publication of copies of the letter would be seen as a union and that cameras in the SpaceX building would reveal who had distributed them. Before the landing page was closed, the authors saw that they had approximately 3,000 unique visitors to their site.
While the document eventually received 404 signatures, many more people turned to those who shared the letter with Signal, in person and through Teams, saying they would sign if they could afford to be fired now, according to a person involved. In 2017, another Musk company, Tesla, fired an employee for distributing brochures encouraging employees to unite. In addition, in May this year, Musk too tweets that Tesla will form a “hard litigation department” to “directly initiate and enforce litigation.”
Their fears turned out to be true, as the management of SpaceX at least fired five employees for their participation in the letter. SpaceX President Gwyn Shotwell then sent an email to the company, denying the document and informing the company of the termination.
“We have too much critical work to do and there is no need for this kind of comprehensive activism – our current leadership team is more committed to ensuring that we have a great and ever-improving work environment than any I have seen in my 35-year career.” “Shotwell wrote. Imitating the authors of the letters, she argues that the letter, not Musk’s behavior, was a source of distraction for SpaceX, which has a busy schedule in the coming days and weeks.
SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment from On the edge in time for publication.
Shotwell also claimed in his email that other employees who did not participate in the letter felt uncomfortable, scared and pressured to sign the document. However, two of the participants in its writing, speaking on condition of anonymity, dispute this statement. They say they simply posted the letter on Teams’ channels, directing people to it and asking for support.
“There was no pressure on anyone to collect signatures,” said an official who helped draft the letter, who also wished to remain anonymous. “The open letter either stands alone or not.
News of the layoffs spread throughout the company and several current employees approached them. On the edge their horror at the actions taken by the company.
“I feel that moving forward, people who do not 100% agree with Elon will have to keep quiet or leave the company, which is very sad,” said a SpaceX employee who was not involved in the letter. On the edge. “We all admire his intelligence, but his social behavior is unacceptable and we are in a situation where we are proud and ashamed to work for SpaceX.