Tesla has made Juneteenth a holiday with unpaid vacation time as Elon Musk gets internal pressure to vocally support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

It is held on June 19th.

This morning, Tesla sent an email to employees telling them that they could take the day off:

“Tesla fully supports Juneteenth for any US employee that wants to take the day off to celebrate, reflect or participate in events that are meaningful to you.”

The company said that employees would be taking “unpaid PTO with an excused absence.”

CEO Elon Musk then declared Juneteenth a “US holiday” at both Tesla and SpaceX:

Musk has been taking some heat internally for the lack of comment regarding the current protests about systemic racism following a series of police brutality instances.

Yesterday, Protocol reported on Tesla employees planning a protest over Musk’s lack of comment on the matter:

“We want a statement from the CEO condemning racism. We can’t even get that,” one Tesla employee who belongs to an employee resource group for people of color told Protocol. Earlier this month, the employee said, members of these groups held a call with the company’s head of North American human resources, Valerie Workman, but have yet to receive a response from Musk. Leaders of employee resource groups have also sent a list of proposals to the company’s head of diversity and inclusion, Kristen Kavanaugh, which includes a call for “direct action” from white executives, including Musk.

One of the workers involved with organizing the protest said:

“We think it’s disappointing that he hasn’t made a statement about it. We want to know that he at least cares about us. We want actual support, not [a] statement that he could post online to make himself look good. If he really cared, he’ll show up at our protest.”

However, Musk did provide a few comments regarding the current situation.

The CEO tweeted support to charge all the police officers involved in George Floyd’s death and not only the one who put his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Furthermore, Valerie Workman, a Tesla HR executive and part of the Black at Tesla group, shared a LinkedIn post supportive of the movement against systemic racism and police brutality that was widely shared in the company:

“Knowing this I have asked the Diversity & Inclusion team to put together a list of groups that you might want to research if social justice is a goal that is important to you. In addition, I have also asked the Benefits team to provide a brief overview of Lyra Health, a mental health resource available to Tesla employees. Mental well-being is as important as physical health and Lyra provides very proactive and actionable counseling for “doers” like us. Please take a look at these resources for more information. I also called a meeting with our Employee Resource Group, Black At Tesla to provide emotional support and information on resources to help get through this time period without feeling helpless. In the short term, I have reminded the Head of Security to ensure that security teams are mindful of their role to assist employees and understand the stresses they are dealing with and I have worked with HR and Workplace teams to figure out ways to help employees get to work as we now have to consider local curfews in addition to COVID-19 safety protocols. I am honored to do this work and appreciative of the support from Elon and my colleagues on the executive level. This is one of the reasons why diversity matters.”

In the post, she said that she was speaking for “the entire leadership team at Tesla.”

Electrek’s Take

I’m not sure what to think about the employee protests. Elon did comment to a degree and I am sure some would appreciate the fact that he let a Black woman at Tesla take the lead on the matter.

As for the holiday though, Tesla sent that email to employees this morning.

Most employees were already at work and some of them are arguably upset by how it has been handled.

It looks to me more like a symbolic gesture than an actual effort to let employees celebrate.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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