Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) hit back at Twitter CEO Elon Musk on the website on Wednesday after Musk, perhaps bothered by comments Ocasio-Cortez made earlier that week, attempted to criticize her in a tweet.
Musk tweeted a screenshot of Ocasio-Cortez’s merchandise website, showing a campaign sweatshirt on sale for $58, with the price circled in an attempt to criticize the lawmaker for selling merchandise at that price point.
“Proud of this and always will be,” Ocasio-Cortez shot back. “My workers are union, make a living wage, have full healthcare, and aren’t subject to racist treatment in their workplaces. Items are made in USA. Team AOC honors and respects working people. You should try it sometime instead of union-busting.” She added that the proceeds from her shop go toward her team’s community organizing efforts.
She also directly replied to Musk’s tweet, saying, “You’re a union buster with an ego problem who pockets the change from underpaying and mistreating people.”
After those tweets, she noted that her Twitter account appeared to stop working properly and she was “conveniently” unable to view mentions and notifications correctly. “I was informed via text that I seem to have gotten under a certain billionaire’s skin,” she wrote. “Just a reminder that money will never buy your way out of insecurity, folks.”
Yo @elonmusk while I have your attention, why should people pay $8 just for their app to get bricked when they say something you don’t like?
This is what my app has looked like ever since my tweet upset you yesterday. What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me 🤔 pic.twitter.com/e3hcZ7T9up
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 3, 2022
Musk has indeed gotten in legal trouble with labor officials for anti-union statements in recent years, and Musk’s Tesla is currently the largest U.S.-based car manufacturer without a union. Meanwhile, perhaps not coincidentally, Tesla is notorious for its poor working standards. Tesla is a uniquely unsafe place to work; in 2019, Forbes found that Tesla’s plant in Fremont, California, had three times more federal safety violations in the previous four years than that of the top 10 U.S. factories combined.
Tesla’s work environment also appears to be incredibly abusive. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the state of California, the state alleged that Black workers in the Tesla factory constantly hear racial slurs and that the factory floor is racially segregated, with Black workers relegated to areas that other workers call heinous, racist names like “the slave ship” or “porch monkey stations.”
The company was also sued last year by a woman who worked at the plant. She said she was the subject of constant sexual harassment at work, where she alleges coworkers would catcall her and aggressively touch her body multiple times a week.
With the working conditions at Tesla in mind, Twitter users noted the irony that Tesla appears to sell apparel at an even higher price than Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign store. A sweatshirt from Tesla’s merchandise shop, similar to the Ocasio-Cortez sweatshirt Musk had tweeted about, costs $75. It’s unclear where the apparel on Tesla’s site is made.
The attack on Ocasio-Cortez appears to have been triggered by tweets she made earlier this week criticizing Musk for his plans to overhaul the website, including charging $8 a month for verification on the platform — a proposal that has been met with widespread criticism.
“One guy’s business plan for a $44 billion over-leveraged purchase is apparently to run around and individually ask people for $8,” she said in a tweet on Wednesday. “Remember that next time you question yourself or your qualifications.”