In a measured, thoughtful tweet intended to constructively deal with the simmering conflict between lawmakers who want to refrain from opening the economy to protect the health and safety of American citizens and companies that need to start operating again to keep workers employed, produce needed goods and services and stave off financial ruin, California assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D) elegantly wrote:
F*ck Elon Musk.
— Lorena (@LorenaSGonzalez) May 10, 2020
Gonzalez sent the message after Tesla cofounder and CEO Elon Musk announced that he planned on moving his operations out of California, in response to his view of the state’s unfair, capricious and heavy-handed treatment.
In a series of tweets, Musk showed his frustration with the situation.
Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependen on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2020
Musk, similar to many other business leaders, has become angry and resentful with the lack of coherent strategy from lawmakers to restart the economy. Musk wrote in a message to his employees, “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.”
Musk added, “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.” The chief executive also provided a list of measures put into place to ensure the safety of his workers, which was also shared with county and city officials.
In an effort to resolve this conflict, Musk filed a lawsuit on May 9 demanding that Tesla should be able to resume building electric vehicles.
Musk previously voiced his frustrations, calling out California’s “fascist” approach to combating the coronavirus, claiming that the death counts of COVID-19 have been padded to make the outbreak seem worse than it is. Musk asserted that it’s “un-American” to keep people under lockdown for indefinite periods of time.
Gonzalez offered her rationale for sending the crude message:
So much of the clash our state is experiencing with the tech/Silicon Valley companies is of our own making. We let gig companies violate labor laws for over a decade. We subsidized Tesla as they operated with severe safety issues & actively union busted. They got used to it.
— Lorena (@LorenaSGonzalez) May 11, 2020
This is not the first time the Democratic assemblywoman has been involved with controversy. She’s the author and ardent backer of the controversial new AB5 law in California. This policy calls for forcing companies to reclassify workers from independent contractors to employee status. Her goal was to ensure that contractors weren’t taken advantage of and companies disallowed from skirting paying taxes and avoiding paying the benefits associated with employees that aren’t offered to contractors. At a rally, Gonzalez shouted a profanity at AB5 protesters who were demonstrating against her controversial law.
It’s unfortunate that we’ve devolved to online crude Twitter wars between public officials and business leaders. The health and safety of Americans is paramount. However, if we don’t allow businesses to operate, millions more people will become unemployed, which raises other serious health-related issues. Clearly, Musk has a financial interest in having his factory stay open. If it were to close, Tesla couldn’t produce and sell cars, which would result in significant losses in revenue and severe job cuts.
Instead of fighting, there needs to be transparent and open conversations to make sure that our leaders balance both needs.