A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Nov 21, 2020

The Reason Tesla Workers Are Exempt From California's New Covid Shut Down

The official reason is that California has declared manufacturing to be 'essential work,' like being a nurse or doctor. 

The unofficial reason is that California officials are afraid of being attacked by Elon Musk again, as they were in the spring, even though he tested positive for Covid last week. Which is what happens when oligarchs are allowed to accrue too much power in a democracy. JL

Kim Lyons reports in The Verge:

Employees at Tesla’s Fremont plant are “essential workers” and therefore exempt from new statewide COVID-19 health order. The California Department of Public Health says manufacturing is considered an “essential workforce.” The carmaker fought previous, stricter shelter-in-place orders in the spring. Elon Musk filed a lawsuit against the county and threatened to move its operations out of California. He was later accused of creating a “public health risk” by reopening his factory before being authorized to do so.

Employees at Tesla’s Fremont plant are “essential workers” and therefore exempt from new statewide COVID-19 health orders, CNBC reported. The California Department of Public Health says manufacturing is considered an “essential workforce” — and that applies to Tesla’s manufacturing, too.

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced new measures such as a “limited stay-at-home order” to slow new coronavirus cases in the state. The rules, which take effect Saturday, prohibit non-essential work and personal gatherings between 10PM and 5AM.

The carmaker fought previous, stricter shelter-in-place orders in the spring. In March, Alameda County officials initially told the company it was not exempt from an order requiring nonessential businesses in six Bay Area counties to shut down. The Tesla plant continued operating, with company executives arguing it was “national critical infrastructure,” even though it did not appear to fit the description of an “essential business” in the the order.

Tesla eventually said on March 19th that it would comply with the Bay Area order and shut down operations at the Fremont plant, where its Model 3, Model S, Model X, and Model Y were assembled, on March 23rd. The company agreed to reduce its workforce there to “basic operations.”

In May, CEO Elon Musk announced he was reopening Tesla’s Fremont plant even though it violated the local shelter-in-place order. He filed a lawsuit against the county and threatened to move its operations out of California. He was later accused of creating a “public health risk” by reopening his factory before being authorized to do so.

Last week, Musk announced he likely had a “moderate case of covid.” At least six Tesla employees tested positive for COVID-19 following the reopening of the Fremont plant.

Alameda County officials could still impose stricter stay-at-home orders which would supersede the state order, but have not done so yet.

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