MWW helped Tesla monitor employees on Facebook amid unionization efforts

The firm reportedly focused broadly on employee discussions about unfair labor practices and a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Stock image of a Tesla plant
Stock image of a Tesla plant

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ: In 2017 and 2018, Tesla paid MikeWorldWide to monitor its employees in a Facebook group and broadly on social media, according to invoices and other documents reviewed by CNBC. 

MWW, as it was known at the time before rebranding as MikeWorldWide in 2019, focused mainly on conversations about unfair labor practices and a sexual harassment lawsuit.

As Tesla employees were attempting to unionize at a factory in Fremont, California, MWW monitored Tesla employees through a Facebook group and more widely on the platform for organizing efforts and those responsible for driving them. The agency went on to develop labor comms plans, media lists and pitches based on their findings, according to the report.

An MWW representative could not be reached for additional comment. However, an agency spokesperson told CNBC that, “It is a common practice to review media coverage and public social conversation about a company to gain insights into issues and perceptions of stakeholders about the brand.”

MWW is the second high-profile firm in recent months to be scrutinized for its work on behalf of a corporation as its employees were trying to unionize. In March, Amazon hired Global Strategy Group, a polling partner for a pro-Biden super PAC ahead of the 2020 election, to create materials to curb unionization efforts at a fulfillment center in Staten Island. 

GSG faced client blowback for its anti-union involvement. The Services Employees International Union, one of the largest labor unions in the U.S., cut ties with the firm. 

The firm later issued an apology on its website, adding, “As we move forward, we are committed to supporting the rights of workers to organize. A coalition of labor unions helped establish new standards that prohibit companies, like ours, that work for Democratic Party candidates and organizations, from doing work that opposes workers’ efforts to organize.”

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