Elon Musk is opening his Tesla plant in Fremont, California — and he’s telling workers to violate the state stay-at-home order or forgo their paychecks and benefits.
“If you do not feel comfortable coming into work, you can stay home and will be on unpaid leave,” an email, obtained by The Guardian, from Tesla’s management to its workers read. “Choosing not to report to work may eliminate or reduce your eligibility for unemployment depending on your state’s unemployment agency.”
Though Musk has tried to sell his workers on the idea that getting back to making cars is “so cool” and an “extremely honorable” task, per an email to staff obtained by BuzzFeed News’ Ryan Mac, not all the workers are thrilled about potentially putting their health at risk in order to make Musk’s cars.
Tesla workers told The Guardian that they feel that management is using intimidation tactics in order to get them back on the job by threatening to cut their pay and unemployment benefits if they don’t show up.
Musk announced on Monday that he’d be reopening the company’s enormous manufacturing plant in Fremont, where some 10,000 people work, in spite of the fact that the county has asked him not to. The company put forward a reopening plan — which doesn’t guarantee that everyone working at the plant will be provided PPE.
“If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” Musk wrote in a tweet, in between tweets on social media about (I think?) how attractive he is in light-up Sketchers and installing Minecraft on his cars’ computers.
The push to keep workers from getting unemployment benefits unless they show up at work has support from at least one state government: In Ohio, the state set up a website that allows employers to report workers who don’t show up at work — to ensure that they won’t get an unemployment check.
Since pushing ahead with his plan to reopen the factory, Musk has been embraced by those who want to push ahead and reopen businesses, despite the looming threat of the coronavirus. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin weighed in on Musk’s behalf, arguing on CNBC that he should be allowed to get back to business.
Even the president took note. “California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW,” President Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Tesla did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
Cover: A cyclist rides past vehicles parked at the Tesla Inc. assembly plant in Fremont, California, U.S., on Monday, May 11, 2020. (Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)