A Tesla employee with knowledge of the situation told Electrek that four workers on the company’s main Model S/X assembly line tested positive for coronavirus today. The affected employees, who have the title of production associates, worked on the same part of the assembly line.
This news follows a Washington Post article earlier today that two employees at Tesla’s nearby seat-assembly facility in Fremont also tested positive for COVID-19. The two employees from the seat-assembly factory report to work on different shifts — one in the morning and another from the evening shift. The Washington Post reported that workers who tested positive have not returned to the assembly line.
The employee, who confirmed with Electrek that four employees tested positive, has been observing unsafe work conditions since last month. He described a meeting held before Tesla was given the go-ahead from Alameda County.
We were inches apart from one another. Didn’t look like they made any changes to the line. On the line, we sometimes work on top of each other, touching the same equipment. I really don’t feel safe.
Workers told the Washington Post that in recent weeks that production lines might pause for two weeks without explanation — perhaps due to a worker on the assembly line developing symptoms. Employees are wearing masks, although social distancing is not being observed. Hand sanitizer is available and temperatures are taken at the factory entrance.
In a message to Electrek, the Tesla factory worker reported today:
We’re still working on top of each other. All they do is make us wear a mask in a hot factory. They take our temperature and have us use hand sanitizer when we walk in. But obviously, that isn’t working.
This image from the last few days shows assembly workers wearing masks:
SF Weekly last month published an exposé about poor health and work conditions at Tesla’s main Fremont assembly plant. One Tesla factory worker told the weekly newspaper, “This is a life and death situation.” Another worker, who refused to return to work, said, “It’s a modern-day sweatshop.”
Carlos Gabriel, a worker who refused to return because social distancing is not being observed, told SF Weekly:
There’s really no room, and this is a factory with recycled air. You’re basically just breathing on each other.
The Washington Post said that Tesla and Alameda County came to an agreement in May allowing the company to restart production. The agreement stipulated that Tesla adhere to strict social distancing, take extra safety precautions, and report all positive cases to the Alameda County Public Health Department. The paper explained:
Because Tesla restarted production a week earlier, there could have been cases that were never reported to the county because Tesla was “not required to directly report known cases” before the agreement, county officials said.
Positive cases among employees who were not residents of Alameda County, even though the factory is located in the county, might not have been reported.
Below are two shots of the Model S/X assembly line in recent days where the workers are shown to be working in close proximity to each other provided by our sources.
In early May, Tesla sued the county over the lockdown order, and CEO Elon Musk threatened to move the company out of California.
Electrek reached out to Tesla for comment about the employees — apparently six total individuals — who tested positive for COVID. Tesla has not yet responded. Tesla also did not respond to a request for comment from the other publications.
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