Tesla and Alameda County Reach Fremont Factory Compromise

  • Tesla's Fremont, California, plant is located in Alameda County, which has issued a quarantine order for all but "essential business."
  • The company had noted that information from different levels of government had been conflicting.
  • The worker reduction affects approximately 10,000 workers at the plant.

After days of conflicting reports, leaked emails, and vague tweets from the Alameda Sheriff Department, Tesla has reached a compromise with the county concerning its Fremont factory.

Tesla will reduce its factory workforce by 75 percent, according to an Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesperson. The facility will run with 2500 employees instead of the usual 10,000. The spokesperson was unable to share a timeline on when this would happen and could not answer if the remaining employees would still be manufacturing automobiles.

The shelter-in-place order allowed for essential businesses to continue to operate. It also stated that a business may continue to operate with basic minimum operations.

The order states that a business can continue to operate under the following parameters: "The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business's inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions."

Maintaining the business's inventory might have been the argument Tesla used to continue to build cars at Fremont. Those vehicles at its plant are its inventory and it needs to maintain that inventory value.

An Alameda county spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that talks with Tesla have been positive.

Through all this, CEO Elon Musk has downplayed the coronavirus pandemic both in communications with Tesla and Space-X and via Twitter. At the worker level, employees were told that they could call out sick if they were feeling ill or uncomfortable about going to work.

Tesla has recently seemed to have hit its stride with slightly profitable quarterly earnings and production and deliveries of the Model Y happening ahead of schedule. This slowdown or potential stopping of vehicle production could put a damper on all that, though.

Still, it's not the first coronavirus-related incident the company has endured. Its Shanghai factory was shuttered during the outbreak in China. It was recently reopened with some help from the Chinese government which made sure the company had adequate masks and cleaning supplies to operate.

Today Ford, GM, and FCA are in plant shutdowns caused by concern surrounding the coronavirus. Toyota and Honda followed suit with planned shutdowns beginning next week.

The Alameda county shelter-in-place order is expected to last until 11:59 p.m. on April 7, 2020, unless rescinded or extended based on Bay Area coronavirus cases.

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