Tesla employees rally for better conditions, demand inspections

A group of Tesla employees is demanding Gov. Gavin Newsom to hire 1,000 inspectors to go through the company’s plant in Fremont over concerns of unsafe work conditions.

The group rallied outside of the plant on Monday and held a news conference voicing both their concerns about working at the site, which reopened in April after Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatened to sue Alameda County officials over their coronavirus reopening plan.

Musk violated the county’s health order at the time by reopening the plant a week earlier than the health order called for and then dropped the lawsuit voluntarily.

Since reopening, the plant – protesters said at the news conference – has not been inspected and the group also alleged that Tesla officials are hiding health records that might show confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

According to media reports, the group has indicated that more workers would join the protest but fear retaliation.

“I’m extremely concerned,” Tesla employee Carlos Gabriel said at the rally on Monday, according to San Francisco’s NBC affiliate. “I’m just one of the few that have decided not to return (to work). “I’m not afraid to lose my job because I’d rather lose my job than lose my life.”

At the rally, the group said that Tesla employees are working with less than adequate safety measures or social distancing guidelines in place.

“We believe workers are being infected here and there’s no tracing and no role of Cal OSHA and proper protection of the workers,” Tesla employee Steve Zeltze, one of the group of protesters who say they represent other Tesla employees said at the rally, according to a media report.

The rally caught Newsom’s attention, who was asked about the demand for inspections to take place at the Fremont plant. The governor did not directly answer the question.

“We have the responsibility to do that,” Newsom told reporters on Monday. “It’s OSHA’s job pre-pandemic – it certainly is as we work our way through the pandemic.”

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