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Today in Our Glorious TechBro Betters

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I really love our TechBro betters. We should clearly idealize them and make them leaders of our society. I am sure these guys (inevitably) will truly create a better tomorrow. No TechBro gets more love than Elon Musk. In between accusing people who stop his crazy ideas about rescuing trapped children a pedophile and smoking weed on camera while firing workers who smoke it at home, St. Elon is also busting unions.

For two years Dezzimond Vaughn was a well-regarded worker at the Tesla factory in Lathrop, California. Then he became involved in trying to organize a union and suddenly his job was on the line.

“They started changing rules without any remorse,” Vaughn, a 31-year-old former Tesla computer-numeric-controlled (CNC) heavy machinery operator, told the Guardian. He cited a strict attendance policy Tesla implemented and backdated that deducted points from employees every time they clocked in late or were absent. “We started talking about forming a union, because they wouldn’t be able to do the things they’re doing, and they somehow found out I was having meetings at my house.”

Vaughn claims management began to try to push him out of employment once they found out he was helping to lead unionization efforts. “Throughout my last year, we kept bumping heads. I never stopped working, they never had a problem with me as far as the work, but I had a lot of complaints about me. My supervisor said they were trying to fire me.”

Tesla and its billionaire owner, Elon Musk, have earned a reputation for union-busting efforts over the past few years. In February 2017, Musk accused a factory worker who outlined several issues within Tesla in a Medium blogpost of being a “union plant”. In an email, Musk also promised workers free frozen yogurt in a letter to employees that framed unionization efforts as an effort against Tesla by big car companies. The same month, Tesla employee Michael Sanchez alleged he was asked to leave the Tesla factory by security for handing out pro-union flyers outside to fellow employees.

The NLRB filed a complaint currently on trial over Musk’s alleged promise to workers in a June 2017 meeting to fix safety standard concerns if they refrained from efforts to form a union. Several similar charges against Tesla are currently under consideration by the NLRB, including one alleging surveillance and intimidation against workers attempting to form a union.

Complaints from workers over being fired for engaging in efforts to unionize at Tesla have become common. “I was a union supporter. I wore a union shirt almost every day to work and my supervisor at the time asked me why I wore it,” said Jim Owen, who left the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, in March 2018 due to concerns for his safety after a robot almost severely injured him while working on car hoods. “He told me upper management wouldn’t appreciate me wearing it.”

Mark Vasquez, worked at Tesla from 2014 until he was placed on a medical leave of absence in July 2016 after spending several months on light duty after he permanently injured his back on the job. “Talking to other workers about unionizing was really frowned upon,” he told me. “When some of my supervisors heard me talking to other employees about it, they would come over and shut down the conversation.”

And then there is Mark Zuckerberg, who has never quite received public canonization like Musk, in part because of the film that made him out as, rightfully, a kind of disturbing character and then of course because of his direct role in electing Donald Trump through his inability to understand or care about basic human interactions outside of seeing it through an algorithm. I haven’t had time to read the whole New Yorker profile (a crazy teaching schedule cuts into everything I normally do, so things will be periodically light here until December), but this is certainly alarming.

In conclusion, we should continue to deemphasize the humanities in higher education. STEM, STEM, STEM, that’s all we need. Why would want our TechBro Kings to be able to understand basic questions of the humanities, such as those Zuckerberg finds completely flummoxing? And gee, it’s almost as if there is a problem with letting a guy like this remake the Newark school system based on his sole qualification of being a rich white man.

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