Elon Musk’s recent acquirement of Twitter has its employees concerned new leadership will squander years of work.
Musk’s apparent intent to allow “free speech” on the platform will likely undo a lot of work put into Twitter’s content moderation system, which many workers feel makes the online community a better place.
Union organizers are offering a helping hand.
“Psssttttt @Twitter workers. Join us. You deserve a voice on the job,” tweeted the Alphabet Workers Union.
Leadership changes commonly prompt workers to unionize. One organizer referred to Musk as a “bull in a china shop.”
“Normally people have anxieties around leadership changes, but with Elon Musk in the mix, that level of uneasiness jumps up to an 11 for folks, because his brand is being arbitrary and unpredictable,” Beth Allen, the communications director at Communications Workers of America (CWA), said. “And, you know, also part of his brand is acting like a bully. So I think that’s why the chatter around definitely forming a union is out there with Twitter employees.”
CWA recently launched a branch to help tech workers unionize.
“It’s rare that upper level white collar workers unionize, right?” Steven Greenhouse, a former New York Times labor reporter and current senior fellow at the think tank Century Foundation, said. “But I think they might be more tempted because, you know, they see this 800 billion pound gorilla coming, and think, well, we want to make sure we have some voice to counter him because we strongly disagree with some of what he’s doing. So they might look to a union.”
“I suspect that some Twitter workers right now are asking might a union be a possible route to gain some greater voice in the workplace, so that Elon Musk doesn’t just bulldoze over us but has to sit down and talk with us about things,” Greenhouse continued.
Some union organizers are concerned Musk will retaliate against unionization among Twitter employees as he did in Tesla. However, Allen thinks the Biden administration will act as a deterrence.
“The National Labor Relations Board is acting as it should in support of workers to enforce the National Labor Relations Act in a way we haven’t seen in generations,” Allen said.