On Thursday, SpaceX reportedly fired at least three employees who led efforts of writing an open letter about Elon Musk’s tweets. The company stated that they forced colleagues to sign a letter that they did not agree with.
At least five SpaceX employees fired
The New York Times reported that at several employees were fired and have come forward stating it was because of the open letter they wrote. Once the open letter was shared over Microsoft Teams chat channels, SpaceX began investigating and fired the employees by Thursday afternoon.
We do not know how many employees have been or will be fired in the coming days. But according to The Verge, 404 SpaceX employees signed the open letter and Reuters is reporting up to five have been fired over it so far.
According to an email from Gwynne Shotwell, the open letter “made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views.” This sort of activism at this scale is relatively unheard of from SpaceX, maybe because they feel pressured not to or because they love working for the company. The president and COO of SpaceX later said in the email that “we have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism.”
The open letter stated that Elon Musk’s tweets have become “de-factor public statements” of SpaceX and that the company needs to condemn his actions. Musk is also working to close a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter as he feels it’s an essential place for today’s democracy.
The open letter also references SpaceX’s “zero-tolerance” sexual harassment policy following the claims that Musk exposed himself to a company flight attendant and then offered to buy her a horse. Shotwell has come out stating she believes these accusations are false. The claims made by Insider have yet to be independently verified.
If it is true that fellow SpaceX employees forced signatures onto the open letter, it definitely lowers the letter’s power. However, some claims could still reign true, especially Musk’s tweets becoming SpaceX public statements. Musk has already gotten in trouble for tweets made referencing Tesla. While SpaceX isn’t a public company, it might become one in the future, so reigning in Musk’s Twitter might be needed soon.