Tesla pulls a Trump, smears critical press outlet as "extremists"

Tesla was extremely upset to learn that the employees who'd been injured and maimed in its factories spoke to Reveal News about the unsafe working conditions and culture of cover-ups at the Tesla plants.

Those workers are seeking to form a union to protect themselves from an employer who has treated risks to their safety as an inconvenience, and Tesla -- despite Elon Musk's feel-good rhetoric on workers' rights -- is pulling out all the stops to prevent its workforce from being unionized.

Smearing a press outlet -- rather than rebutting the factual claims the outlet reported -- is Trump 101; Musk is one shitty combover shy of a MAGA hat here. Tesla spokespeople have gone on to smear the UAW -- the union that its workers are organizing under -- and sent Ars Technica a suite of nonanswers and spin worthy of Sean Spicer when asked to explain its smears.

Specifically, we asked what had changed since Musk's comments in 2014 to the San Francisco Chronicle that the company was "neutral" on the question of unionization of its labor force. Tesla's new statement about Reveal ("an extremist organization working directly with union supporters") suggests that it is actually antagonistic toward unions.

The company insisted that nothing has changed in this viewpoint, noting that the United Autoworkers (UAW)—which has been trying to unionize in Fremont—is apparently not in synch with corporate values. Tesla did not explain why.

Ars also specifically asked Tesla, "in a 2017 blog post, [Tesla] appears to blame UAW for the prior closure of NUMMI (which was 'under the stewardship of the UAW'). What role does Tesla believe that the UAW had in that situation?"

NUMMI was the prior name for what is now the Fremont Tesla Factory when that facility was jointly operated by GM and Toyota from 1984 until its closure in 2010.

Tesla, in turn, said that it was merely a fact that the plant closed while "under the stewardship of the UAW." However, as far as Ars is aware, the union had no role in the decision to close NUMMI.

We also specifically asked about Musk's 2017 promise to work directly on the factory floor. As we wrote: "Did Musk perform factory tasks as promised last year? If so, which ones? What did he learn from the experience? Does he plan on repeating this experience?"

Tesla simply confirmed that he did so ("Yes"), while at first ignoring our other questions. When we attempted to follow up further, the company simply pointed us to Musk's comments in a company-wide email that was previously published by Electrek.

Tesla slams Reveal News as “extremist” after exposé on alleged factory improprieties [Cyrus Farivar/Ars Technica]

(Image: Steve Jurvetson, CC-BY)

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