FREMONT (KPIX) – Workers at Tesla were speaking out after an industry blog reported that more than a hundred employees have tested positive for coronavirus and more than a thousand have been exposed. The workers raised serious concerns about their health and safety at the Fremont plant, but they say those concerns are being ignored.
“I feel abandoned, we all feel abandoned,” says Tesla employee Branton Phillips.
Phillips says the company is leaving its workers in the dark about coronavirus cases at its Fremont plant.
“One day somebody is sick and we know that, next day the 3 to 4 guys that worked around him are also gone and we’re not told anything,” he says.
Phillips and former Tesla employee Carlos Gabriel, say social distancing protocols are not being followed. They claim masks are provided but the rules are not enforced and there is no record of sanitation of equipment.
They contend conditions started to shift after CEO Elon Musk sent out this tweet on May 9.
“He threatened to leave the county for Texas and then we saw a complete change from the county and the state. They just turned a blind eye,” says Gabriel, who now is with Workers United Against COVID-19.
Tesla employs roughly 10,000 people at its Fremont plant and was initially forced to shut down, but Musk publicly battled with the County of Alameda over its shelter in place order. Just nine days after sending out a contentions tweet, the county allowed Tesla to fully reopen.
Employees say they received an email from Musk that they could stay home if they felt uncomfortable or ill but Phillips says it’s not a realistic option for many.
“From my understanding, everybody has been told to get back to work and that’s it. That’s basically it,” said Phillips.
Our attempts to reach Tesla for this story were unsuccessful.