News & Opinion | July 15, 2020 2:30 pm

Tesla Employees “Feel Abandoned” After Dozens of COVID-19 Cases Reported

Will Elon Musk shut down the California factory again?

Former Tesla employee Carlos Gabriel protesting outside the Fremont factory on June 15.
Former Tesla employee Carlos Gabriel protesting outside the Fremont factory on June 15.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the U.S. after a slight downturn, one of the first battles fought over lockdown orders is flaring up once again. Unsurprisingly, it has to do with Elon Musk and Tesla.

According to CBS San Francisco, “an industry blog reported that more than a hundred employees have tested positive for coronavirus and more than a thousand have been exposed” at the electric vehicle company’s factory in Fremont, California. The revelations are inspiring workers to speak out about their experiences at the reopened plant.

“I feel abandoned, we all feel abandoned,” current Tesla employee Branton Phillips told the outlet. Phillips and former employee Carlos Gabriel also mentioned an absence of social-distancing enforcement and sanitation, as well as a lack of transparency about how the coronavirus is spreading at the facility. 

These disclosures come after Tesla CEO Elon Musk seemed to have successfully navigated his way past any significant COVID-19 fallout. From the beginning of lockdown orders in the Bay Area, Musk bristled at the idea of stopping production, culminating in a high-profile fight against Alameda County that made its way to President Trump’s Twitter account. But eventually Tesla production started again, helping the EV company take the title of most valuable automaker in the world.

Now, as California begins to shut down again, the possibility of another stoppage at Tesla’s factory is growing.

“One day somebody is sick and we know that, next day the three to four guys that worked around him are also gone and we’re not told anything,” Phillips told CBS San Francisco. 

If the coronavirus isn’t contained and Tesla employees aren’t offered the safety and respect they deserve, keeping the EV production lines running this time may be out of Musk’s hands.

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