Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company will reopen a manufacturing plant in California in defiance of local coronavirus restrictions.
Musk said last week that Tesla filed a lawsuit against Alameda County, where the company’s Fremont plant is based, because the “ignorant” top health official in the county is “acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!”
“Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately,” he warned. “If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependen on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA.”
Musk went further on Monday, declaring that he would reopen the plant in defiance of regulations.
“Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules,” he said. “I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
Trump backs Musk:
“California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW,” President Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “It can be done Fast & Safely!”
But Alameda County said the company must take more steps to ensure worker safety.
“We have continued to collaborate in good faith with Tesla to present a plan for reopening the Fremont plant that ensures the safety of their thousands of employees and the communities in which they live and work, and that also aligns with local and state requirements,” the county said in a statement. “We continue to move closer to an agreed upon safety plan for reopening beyond Minimum Basic Operations by working through steps that Tesla has agreed to adopt. These steps include improving employee health screening procedures and engaging front-line staff on their concerns and feedback regarding safety protocols.”
Tesla workers worry:
Two workers at the Fremont plant told The Washington Post they were concerned over the plan because workers have thus far gathered in groups and have not enforced social distancing.
“Everybody’s walking around without their mask on, talking, hanging out talking among themselves,” one worker said. “It’s scary.”
“We’re extremely frustrated, angry, scared, that Elon is putting his cars before his workers,” the worker added. “He’s putting those cars before his employees and their well-being.”