Mar 29, 2021
Tesla’s Fremont car manufacturing plant in California has recorded a total of around 450 COVID-19 cases since its CEO Elon Musk reopened the plant last May, violating the stay-at-home orders, according to the Washington Post. This is Tesla’s largest plant in the world, and the only assembly plant in the U.S. Roughly 10,000 people work at the plant.
Alameda County, which is supposed to enforce the stay-at-home orders, not only did nothing after Musk opened the plant, but also refused to release details about COVID-19 cases in the plant, until forced to by courts. But all these reports of cases did not prevent Musk from operating with impunity.
Tesla initially promised that its workers could remain home if they felt uncomfortable returning to the line. But workers who were concerned about COVID exposure and did not return to the plant received termination notices. One worker told the Mercury News at the time that many were opposed to restarting operations, but felt they had no choice but to show up.
Over the last year, Elon Musk increased his wealth to $185 billion from $27 billion, becoming the richest person in the world. The superexploitation of Tesla workers did this. At the same time, it devastated the health and lives of workers, many beyond repair.
Only an organized workforce could have gone against Tesla’s manipulative and ruthless drive to run this plant this way, but it is work that still remains to be done. There is no other remedy for the problem. Capitalism is even more deadly under COVID.