Tesla is the last major carmaker remaining in California, and the largest manufacturing employer in the State with more than 10,000 employees at our Fremont factory and 20,000 statewide. We understand the impacts COVID-19 has caused and have a responsibility to look out for the livelihoods and safety of our personnel, many of whom rely on us and have been out of work for weeks due to the impacts of shelter-in-place orders.
Given the Governor’s recent guidance, which is supported by science and credible health data, the state and federal government’s classification of vehicle manufacturing as national critical infrastructure, and our robust safety plan, Tesla has started the process of resuming operations. Our employees are excited to get back to work, and we’re doing so with their health and safety in mind.
What We’re Doing
Our restart plan is the result of months of careful planning and preparation. It was modeled after the comprehensive return to work plan we established at our Shanghai Gigafactory, which has seen smooth and healthy operations for the last three months.
We are taking the time we need to get our personnel properly trained before they begin work and all employees must complete an online video training before returning to work at any Tesla facility. We have a thorough return-to-work plan for all locations. A cross-functional response team, including an in-house physician, has been working daily to establish health and safety guidelines based on location- and job-specific risk assessments, and we are continuously reviewing our processes to ensure they work for our employees in this new environment.
Back in March, we conducted risk assessments at each site, looking at how and where people work, how they interact, and what measures are needed to meet safety standards. In some cases, we have added partitions or barriers to separate work areas and minimized employee interactions by positioning parts closer to where that task is completed on the line. We are also requiring additional personal protective equipment, along with rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
Our Return to Work playbook details the comprehensive safety measures we have introduced to ensure employee safety.
Why We’re Restarting
Tesla is not an outlier, nor are we going against the grain. From the State’s very first shelter-in-place order, national critical infrastructure, including vehicle manufacturing like Tesla’s Fremont factory, was considered vital and given permission to continue operating. The Governor repeated this direction this week when he made clear manufacturing should resume.
In addition, at least three neighboring counties in the same situation have already restarted their economies including manufacturing, including Solano, Napa, and San Joaquin Counties. Meanwhile, Alameda county, where our factory resides, and Santa Clara County next door, have stated in their return to work order FAQs that the manufacturing of distributed energy resources (which is defined in state law to include electric vehicles, solar and battery storage) is permitted to resume.
How We’ve Worked with the County
Contrary to the Governor’s recent guidance and support from the City of Fremont, Alameda County is insisting we should not resume operations. This is not for lack of trying or transparency since we have met with and collaborated on our restart plans with the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. Unfortunately, the County Public Health Officer who is making these decisions has not returned our calls or emails.
The list below is just some of the information we’ve shared with city and county officials:
- Detailed health and safety restart plan with checklist and photos
- Employee health and safety guidelines
- Risk assessment process, including what we’ve done throughout the factory
- Risk assessment improvements, including how we’ve identified and addressed high/medium/low risks
- Temperature screening protocol plus a commitment to add temperature screening when we resume long-distance shuttle routes
- Revised Fremont production restart plan
- Factory layout with square footage to illustrate on how people are spread out across our 6 million square foot facility
- Break room capacities (reduced for social distancing) and numbers of people in each room based on work area
We will continue to put people back to work in a safe and responsible manner. However, the County’s position left us no choice but to take legal action to ensure that Tesla and its employees can get back to work. We filed a lawsuit on May 9 asking the court to invalidate the County Orders, to the extent the County claims they prevent Tesla from resuming operations.