Elon Musk confirmed Monday that Tesla has resumed production at its California plant despite the state’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions, with the CEO adding he’s willing to be arrested for defying the orders.
The plant in Fremont, south of San Francisco, had been closed since March 23 under orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
But early Monday evening Musk tweeted that Tesla is ‘restarting production today against Alameda County rules’.
‘I will be on the line with everyone else,’ the CEO continued. ‘If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.’
Elon Musk appears to have reopened a Tesla plant in Fremont, California, in defiance of local coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Employees are seen outside the plant on Monday
Workers were seen arriving at the facility before sunrise on Monday in footage from KPIX
The parking lot outside the Tesla plant is seen nearly full on Monday even though local officials told the company to keep the facility closed through the end of the month
Musk announced Tesla’s legal action against Alameda County in a Twitter thread on Saturday
Employees were seen reporting to the plant before sunrise on Monday in footage from local media outlet KPIX.
Tesla filed a lawsuit against Alameda County on Saturday after the Fremont plant was shuttered amid the statewide lockdown on March 23.
The suit claims that county officials ignored Gov Gavin Newsom’s allowances for ’16 crucial infrastructure industries,’ including transportation, to continue operating.
Musk announced the legal action on Twitter, threatening to move the automaker’s headquarters to another state.
‘Frankly, this is the final straw,’ the billionaire tweeted. ‘Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.
‘If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependen [sic] on how Tesla is treated in the future.’
In a blog post on Saturday, Tesla said the county’s position left it no choice but to take legal action to ensure the company and its employees can go back to work.
The company said it had worked out a thorough return-to-work plan that includes online video training for personnel, work zone partition areas, temperature screening, requirements to wear protective equipment and rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
The company said it had informed health authorities in Alameda County about its restart plans, but claimed the acting official did not return calls or emails.
Tesla said it implemented strict safety measures prior to reopening the plant
The Fremont plant (above in a file photo) was shuttered by local health officials on March 30
A truck hauling new Tesla vehicles is seen leaving the Fremont facility on Monday
Tesla’s lawsuit called the continued restrictions a ‘power-grab’ by the county since California’s governor had said on Thursday that manufacturers in the state would be allowed to reopen.
The company said Alameda was going against the federal and California constitutions, as well as defying the governor’s order, the lawsuit said.
Alameda County is scheduled to remain shut until the end of May, with only essential businesses allowed to reopen.
The county said it does not consider Tesla an essential business. County officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
Alameda County said on Saturday that it has been working with Tesla to develop a safety plan that ‘allows for reopening while protecting the health and well-being of the thousands of employees’ that work at the factory and that it looks forward to coming to an agreement on a safety plan very soon.
In a blog post on Saturday, Tesla said Alameda County’s position left it no choice but to take legal action to ensure the company and its employees can go back to work (file photo)
Fremont Mayor Lily Mei expressed concern about the potential economic implications of continuing the shelter-in-place order without provisions for manufacturers such as Tesla to resume.
Mei on Saturday urged the county to work with businesses on ‘acceptable guidelines for re-opening’.
On Monday, US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told CNBC the state should do ‘whatever [is] needed’ too allow Tesla to reopen.
Musk had told employees on Thursday that limited production would restart at Fremont on Friday afternoon.
Tesla last year built nearly half a million vehicles at the Fremont plant and moving the entire production facility would be a massive undertaking.
Dan Ives, a Wedbush analyst, on Saturday estimated it could take the company 12 to 18 months to relocate production.
The threat to relocate the facility comes as Tesla aims to ramp up production at Fremont of its Model Y sport utility vehicle, which it expects to generate record demand and profit margins.
Musk, who sparred with California officials in March over whether Tesla had to halt production at Fremont, had criticized the lockdown and stay-at-home orders, calling them a ‘serious risk’ to US business and ‘unconstitutional’.
One Democratic lawmaker in the state had some choice words for Musk after he announced his plans to move Tesla’s headquarters.
‘F**k Elon Musk,’ San Diego assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez tweeted Saturday.
Gonzalez’s statement drew both praise and condemnation, particularly from people who pointed out the number of job losses if the Tesla factory moves.
Meanwhile, Texas and Nevada Republicans were quick to embrace Musk’s plans.
‘Texas gets better every day. Good conservative principles make good governance, and attract the best and the brightest. The future is happening in Texas,’ Texas congressman Dan Crenshaw tweeted Saturday.
Nevada congressional hopeful Dan Rodimer tweeted: ‘Nevada NEEDS these jobs most of all right now, @elonmusk. We would love to have you and Tesla HQ right here in the Battleborn State!’
San Diego assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez did not hold back her feelings about Elon Musk’s tweet stating that he would move Tesla’s headquarters out of California to Texas or Nevada
Meanwhile, Texas and Nevada Republicans were eager to embrace his decision to move
TESLA’S EMAIL TO STAFF IN FULL
The State of California released new guidelines today permitting certain critical infrastructure including manufacturing to gradually resume operations.
This includes Tesla’s Fremont factory and supporting manufacturing facilities. Additionally, Alameda County, where the Fremont factory is located, states in its shelter in place order FAQs that distributed energy resource manufacturing, which includes electric vehicles, solar, and battery storage, is permitted to operate.
I know many of you are excited to get back to work, as we are too, and I am confident we are well-prepared to do so safely and in alignment with all government precautions.
At all facilities, we’ve enhanced our already robust safety strategy in accordance with our Return To Work Plan, which we have reviewed extensively with Alameda County, and you will be receiving a video training from EHS which we ask you to complete promptly when assigned.
It is critical that you comply with and follow all required safety protocols. If you do not follow these protocols you will be sent home on Unpaid Leave. If you are sick or have concerns with safely coming to work, please stay home. You may use your available PTO or if you have none, may take the time as unpaid without penalty. We respect your decision.
Starting tomorrow, May 8, 2020, limited operations will resume at the Fremont factory starting at 30% our normal headcount per shift. You will be contacted via email or phone by your manager or HR with details on your specific start date and time.
Our Gigafactories in Nevada and New York have also begun limited operations as approved by their respective states. Similarly, Sales, Service and Delivery as well as Energy operations have been gradually coming back online on a state-by-state basis.
If you are an hourly California employee and we were required to cash out your PTO under California law due to the furlough extension, you will be given the same number of unpaid days off as your accrued, unused PTO.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your HR partners or [e-mail redacted] with any questions.
Thank you for all you do to ensure the success of our company!