Update, 2:26 p.m.: This story has been updated to include an official statement from Tesla.
On Friday, the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America weighed in on the controversy over working conditions at electric car maker Tesla’s manufacturing plant. The UAW issued a statement in which the organization suggested that Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk has deliberately misled the public on this issue.
On Thursday, a person claiming to be a Tesla employee wrote a Medium post in which he accused the electric car company of maintaining unsafe working conditions at its factory in Fremont, California, requiring employees to work excessive overtime, and fostering an atmosphere in which workers are too scared to unionize. Musk responded to these criticisms, telling Gizmodo via Twitter DM that Moran “was paid by the UAW to join Tesla and agitate for a union. He doesn’t really work for us, he works for the UAW.”
But in the UAW’s Friday statement, the union flatly refuted Musk’s allegation. “Mr. Moran is not and has not been paid by the UAW,” reads the statement. “We would hope that Tesla would apologize to their employee, Mr. Moran, for spreading fake news about him.”
“Fake news” has become a familiar accusation in recent months, bandied about by politicians, data scholars, and social psychologists as a catch-all term for misleading or false stories in popular media. It’s been used so much that it’s begun to ring hollow. But in this particular case, it seems that at least one party is not telling the truth. Musk’s statement and the UAW’s statement directly contradict each other.