Hundreds of employees at Tesla’s plant in California contracted COVID-19 after Elon Musk urged them to return to work amid the coronavirus pandemic, a bombshell report in The Washington Post reveals.
The plant, located in Alameda County, reopened in May of last year despite officials ordering it to stay shuttered until at least June.
Musk – who decried government lockdowns as ‘fascist’ – tweeted on May 11: ‘Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.’
Several days later, the billionaire reached an agreement with officials to allow the reopening of the plant as long as all COVID cases at the facility were reported to the Alameda County Public Health Department.
Data from the Department was obtained by The Washington Post under freedom of information laws on Saturday.
It shows around 450 employees contracted COVID-19 between May and December 2020. The plant employs close to 10,000 workers.
Hundreds of employees at Tesla’s plant in California contracted COVID-19 after Elon Musk urged them to return to work amid the coronavirus pandemic, a bombshell report in The Washington Post reveals
Musk decried government lockdowns as ‘fascist’ and reopened the plant in defiance of government guidelines
Last year, Musk faced criticism over the treatment of his workers at the Tesla factory.
After the plant reopened in May, Tesla told its employees that they could remain home if they felt uncomfortable about returning to the production line.
They stated that the decision to do so would not affect job security.
However, last June, two Telsa workers told The Washington Post that they received termination notices for ‘failure to return to work’.
Human resources told the workers they were fired for failure to show up and difficulties in contacting them, although the employees say they had proof they remained in touch with their supervisors.
Meanwhile, half a dozen other employees spoke with the publication alleging unsafe working conditions at the plant.
Some of the employees who came forward requested anonymity for fear of losing their positions because they did not have authorization to speak to media.
The workers alleged that Tesla was not enforcing proper social distancing or other rules set up to contain the spread of the virus and protect workers, including requirements for masks and sanitizing plant equipment.
One worker complained that employees were ‘hovering over each other.’
Last June, two Telsa workers told The Washington Post that they received termination notices for ‘failure to return to work’. One of them is pictured protesting outside the plant
Workers are pictured wait in line for a shuttle at the Tesla factory on May 12 – the day after Musk ordered it be reopened
Musk has been criticized for his response to the pandemic.
Last September, he stated that he was not interested in receiving a COVID vaccine because he was not at risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus.
Meanwhile, he told The New York Times’ Kara Swisher that the lockdowns that unfolded across the country were a grave mistake.
‘I mean this is a hot button issue where rationality takes a back seat. In the grand scheme of things what we have something with a very low mortality rate and high contagion,’ he said.
‘Essentially the right thing to do would be to not have done a lockdown for the whole country but to have anyone that who is at risk quarantine until the storm passes,’ he added.
Musk said the US should have better assessed what does the ‘greater good’ and lockdowns were not the solution.
‘It has diminished my faith in humanity, the whole thing…the irrationality of people in general,’
‘Tesla has been, apart for several weeks where we were shut down by the state, and then the overzealous Alameda County, which was a travesty, but apart from that we’ve been making cars this entire time and it’s been great,’ Musk said.
Last June, half a dozen employees at the Tesla plant soke with The Washington Post alleging unsafe working conditions at the plant