In one of the most high-profile acts of COVID-19 government-defiance yet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk reopened his California factory. Against local government orders, Musk Tweeted yesterday, “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.” He has also filed a lawsuit against local authorities, claiming that their order “illegally overrode” state guidelines. Musk even threatened to move his company to another state. Unlike other Silicon Valley giants including Facebook, Musk noted that his company doesn’t have the luxury of sending employees home to work remotely. He added that current orders gave him no choice but to open again in order to provide work for his employees. His controversial move has incited various responses.
“If somebody wants to stay in their house, that’s great, … But saying they can’t leave their house and that they will be arrested if they do — that’s fascist.”Elon Musk
A professor with Berkley University and a previous U.S. labor secretary, Robert Reich criticized him saying, “Elon Musk threatens to take away people’s jobs unless he’s allowed to risk their health. Capitalism at its worst.” Those on the Left view his move as reckless, ridiculous, and selfish. Possibly in response to Musk’s threat of moving out of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said that he believes they will continue to be able to have a relationship in which the state can support the company and in which the company can benefit the state. “We look forward to many, many decades of that relationship” he said, adding that he thinks they will be able to work through any issues regarding the situation.
“I’m sorry for my language… but that was the feeling that I had… when I realized that Elon Musk doesn’t care about his workers.”— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) May 12, 2020
CA State Assemblywoman @LorenaSGonzalez on her tweet about the Tesla CEO. Gonzalez’s tweets came as Musk threatened to move to avoid the shutdown. pic.twitter.com/mqPbyGTVr7
Stay-home order protestors and citizens calling for the economy to reopen have an unlikely new spokesperson in Musk. He has called the orders “fascist” and said they are a violation of American civil liberties, echoing the sentiments of protesters around the nation. President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have stated their support for Tesla and called on California to let Musk open the factory immediately.