Try and Stop Me: In Defiance of County Orders, Tesla Turns on the Lights
Furious over a decision by county officials to keep all non-essential businesses offline until the end of the month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced late Monday that his Fremont, California assembly plant is opening up anyway.
The move comes two days after the automaker filed a lawsuit against Alameda County. In it, Tesla called the county’s order unconstitutional and in violation of California Governor Gavin Newson’s statewide return-to-work mandate. Should county officials call in the cops, Musk wishes to be the only one in cuffs.
Call him the Rosa Parks of well-compensated CEOs forcing workers back to the assembly line in the midst of a health crisis. Call him a hero for the planet and for personal liberty. Whatever the appropriate framing, it’s vintage Musk.
Online backlash, as you’d imagine, was predictably scathing.
Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2020
In his rationale for the lawsuit, Musk pointed out that counties on either side of Fremont were relaxing stay-at-home orders and allowing businesses to reopen. Over the weekend, a county supervisor noted in an interview with The New York Times that, while working with the plant to approve it for reopening, Musk threatened him with a lawsuit after being told his preferred May 11th start date was unfeasible. May 18th, however, seemed a likely possibility.
Musk then announced on Twitter that he was seeking to move his company’s headquarters and all future product out of the state.
Yes, California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode. Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2020
Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler are poised to resume production on May 18th. Some automakers operating in the U.S., like Honda, Toyota, BMW, Hyundai, and Kia, have already returned to work, albeit in a limited fashion.
In a statement released Monday, the Alameda County Public Health Department said, “We continue to move closer to an agreed upon safety plan for reopening beyond Minimum Basic Operations by working through steps that Tesla has agreed to adopt.
“These steps include improving employee health screening procedures and engaging front-line staff on their concerns and feedback regarding safety protocols.”
Gov. Newsom gave Musk a shout-out on Monday, stating that he had great “reverence” for Tesla and its products and adding that any issue with the county would be worked through in the coming days. This earned him a “thank you” from Musk.
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No politics in this, but I thought the point was to flatten the curve and prevent the hospitals from being overloaded. It seems like that happened, so why can't things open up a little? Here in CA, where the Fremont plant is, there are 69,417 confirmed cases and 2,789 deaths (latimes.com). In a state with close to 40 million people, that's really, really low.
Well, we're gonna find out soon enough from the States out here in flyover country that are reopening. My feeling is that many of the flyover states will be OK, without any major outbreaks, and that come the end of the summer we'll have a distinct dichotomy between those states (which will be recovering economically) and the ones still locked down. As if we needed another reason to break along political lines, but there you go.