Tesla decides to file a lawsuit against Alameda County in an effort to reopen their California factory
The relationship between Alameda County and Tesla management has reached a potential breaking point. Elon Musk tweeted that he is filing a lawsuit against Alameda County and has accused the County’s Interim Health Officer of ignorance and lacking common sense. This tweet came as a result of the County opting to refuse Tesla’s plan to re-open their plant, after opting to extend shelter-in-place orders throughout the month of May. The company’s Fremont-based production plant has been shut down since March 23, after it was deemed a non-essential business by the Alameda County Health Order.
Tesla is filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately. The unelected & ignorant “Interim Health Officer” of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2020
Musk threatens to move Tesla’s HQ to either Nevada or Texas.
In another tweet, Musk threatened to move Tesla’s North American production plant to either Nevada or Texas, where coronavirus-related restrictions are more lax than California in general. The Tesla CEO has deemed Alameda County’s latest decision to be “the final straw” and stressed that “Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA”. Interestingly enough, Texas-based United States Senator encouraged Musk to move operations to Texas, stating in a tweet the Lone Star State “would welcome Tesla HQ in Texas”.
Tesla: @Tesla is not an essential business as defined in the Alameda County Health Order. Tesla can maintain minimum basic operations per the Alameda County Health Order.
— Alameda County Sheriff (@ACSOSheriffs) March 17, 2020
Both California Governor and Fremont Mayor opted to re-open their economies.
In regards to the county’s decision, we should be scratching our heads indeed, especially considering the steps taken by two key California public officials: First of all California Governor Gavin Newsom, who announced last Thursday that manufacturers across the state would be allowed to re-open their factories. Secondly, the Mayor of the city of Fremont Lily Mei issued a statement on Saturday that encourages Alameda county to “engage with local businesses to come up with acceptable guidelines for re-opening [the] local economy”; Furthermore, the Mayor indicated that the city “is prepared to support Tesla as soon as they are able to resume automobile manufacturing operations and are committed to a thoughtful, balanced approach to this effort”.
Musk allegedly sent email to employees to resume work by last Friday.
The Tesla CEO reportedly sent an email to Tesla employees last Thursday in which he stated that the factory intends to resume production by Friday in light of Governor Newsom’s announcement to reopen manufacturing businesses across California; A Buzzfeed employee by the name of Ryan Mac inserted an alleged screenshot of the email sent by Musk in a tweet on May 8.
Come to Texas! We would welcome Tesla HQ in Texas. We love jobs & Texans very much want to open up & get back to work (while still staying safe & following sound science). We make lots of cars & trucks in Texas, and we’d love more!!
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 9, 2020
Tesla posts blog on their website detailing why they should resume work.
Additionally, the Tesla Team shared a comprehensive blog on the automaker’s website titled “Getting Back to Work”, where they outline how and why the company should resume its North American operations. The blog indicates that the state of California and the U.S. federal government labeled “vehicle manufacturing as national critical infrastructure”. The Tesla Team also stated that they have implemented strict measures such as having a “cross-functional response team, including an in-house physician, [that] has been working daily to establish health and safety guidelines based on location-and job-specific risk assessments…”.
Musk is not a fan of lockdowns to say the least.
The entrepreneur has been a vocal critic of COVID-19-related shelter-in-place orders prevalent in California; on April 30 he retweeted CNBC reporter Phil LeBeau’s tweet in which he quoted Musk, who labeled the orders as fascist, undemocratic, and to give people back their freedom.
$TSLA CEO @elonmusk blasts shelter in place orders: “To say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist. This is not democratic, this is not freedom, give people back their god damn freedom.”
— Phil LeBeau (@Lebeaucarnews) April 29, 2020
It will be interesting to see how this will play out between Alameda County and the Tesla CEO; will Elon Musk actually follow up on his threat? Or will the county seek to reach a compromise with Tesla? We shall find out soon enough. Until then FEM followers, stay tuned.
Late this evening Tesla shared a blog on its website titled “Getting Back to Work”
As this is a developing story, I will update the website tomorrow morning with further details.
Tesla is the last major carmaker remaining in California, and the largest manufacturing employer in the State with more than 10,000 employees at our Fremont factory and 20,000 statewide. We understand the impacts COVID-19 has caused and have a responsibility to look out for the livelihoods and safety of our personnel, many of whom rely on us and have been out of work for weeks due to the impacts of shelter-in-place orders.
Given the Governor’s recent guidance, which is supported by science and credible health data, the state and federal government’s classification of vehicle manufacturing as national critical infrastructure, and our robust safety plan, Tesla has started the process of resuming operations. Our employees are excited to get back to work, and we’re doing so with their health and safety in mind.
What We’re Doing
Our restart plan is the result of months of careful planning and preparation. It was modeled after the comprehensive return to work plan we established at our Shanghai Gigafactory, which has seen smooth and healthy operations for the last three months.
We are taking the time we need to get our personnel properly trained before they begin work and all employees must complete an online video training before returning to work at any Tesla facility. We have a thorough return-to-work plan for all locations. A cross-functional response team, including an in-house physician, has been working daily to establish health and safety guidelines based on location- and job-specific risk assessments, and we are continuously reviewing our processes to ensure they work for our employees in this new environment.
Back in March, we conducted risk assessments at each site, looking at how and where people work, how they interact, and what measures are needed to meet safety standards. In some cases, we have added partitions or barriers to separate work areas and minimized employee interactions by positioning parts closer to where that task is completed on the line. We are also requiring additional personal protective equipment, along with rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
Our Return to Work playbook details the comprehensive safety measures we have introduced to ensure employee safety.
Why We’re Restarting
Tesla is not an outlier, nor are we going against the grain. From the State’s very first shelter-in-place order, national critical infrastructure, including vehicle manufacturing like Tesla’s Fremont factory, was considered vital and given permission to continue operating. The Governor repeated this direction this week when he made clear manufacturing should resume.
In addition, at least three neighboring counties in the same situation have already restarted their economies including manufacturing, including Solano, Napa, and San Joaquin Counties. Meanwhile, Alameda county, where our factory resides, and Santa Clara County next door, have stated in their return to work order FAQs that the manufacturing of distributed energy resources (which is defined in state law to include electric vehicles, solar and battery storage) is permitted to resume.
How We’ve Worked with the County
Contrary to the Governor’s recent guidance and support from the City of Fremont, Alameda County is insisting we should not resume operations. This is not for lack of trying or transparency since we have met with and collaborated on our restart plans with the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. Unfortunately, the County Public Health Officer who is making these decisions has not returned our calls or emails.
The list below is just some of the information we’ve shared with city and county officials:
- Detailed health and safety restart plan with checklist and photos
- Employee health and safety guidelines
- Risk assessment process, including what we’ve done throughout the factory
- Risk assessment improvements, including how we’ve identified and addressed high/medium/low risks
- Temperature screening protocol plus a commitment to add temperature screening when we resume long-distance shuttle routes
- Revised Fremont production restart plan
- Factory layout with square footage to illustrate on how people are spread out across our 6 million square foot facility
- Break room capacities (reduced for social distancing) and numbers of people in each room based on work area
We will continue to put people back to work in a safe and responsible manner. However, the County’s position left us no choice but to take legal action to ensure that Tesla and its employees can get back to work. We filed a lawsuit on May 9 asking the court to invalidate the County Orders, to the extent the County claims they prevent Tesla from resuming operations.”