Elon Musk has a lot to say about workers at Tesla, which continues to lead US automakers in security breaches

Elon Musk, the richest person in the world, has had a lot to say in recent days about the employees of Tesla, his electric vehicle company. He has expressed hostility to remote work, demanded that executives spend at least 40 hours a week in the office and floated the idea of ​​laying off 10% of Tesla’s workforce because he has a “super bad feeling” about the direction of Tesla. the economy.

At the same time, Tesla continues to lead all automakers in workplace safety violations, racking up more violations and fines in the past three years than all other automakers in the US combined.

Since March 1, 2019, when Forbes reported that Musk’s company had been slapped with more violations and fines under Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules Tesla has been cited 29 times more for violations at its US facilities than any other auto company in the US, including 22 at manufacturing operations in California and Nevada. The Austin, Texas-based company’s violations resulted in $393,000 in federal fines.

By comparison, 14 other automakers that make cars and trucks in the US, including General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Stellantis, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Kia, Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, have a combined of 21 safety violations and fines totaling $148,488. , according to the OSHA database.

“Their goal seems to be to produce as many cars as possible, damn the condition of the employees,” says Sam Abuelsamid, auto industry analyst at Guidehouse, a senior contributor to Forbes and former Ford engineer. Musk has talked about creating fully automated factories and touts Tesla’s development of the Optimum humanoid robot, but it has to rely on human labor for the foreseeable future, says Abuelsamid. “There are limits to what you can do with automation, so it focuses on pushing employees as hard as it can.”

Love Musk or hate him, the man is a hard worker. He runs Tesla, SpaceX, Boring Co. and, maybe one day, Twitter, as well as being the father of seven children, from babies to teenagers. His belief in putting in the hours even led him to camp out at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California in 2017 and early 2018 during his Model 3.”production hell” period to help the automaker rapidly scale up electric vehicle production.

Automotive plants, like any type of heavy manufacturing facility, can be dangerous workplaces, with heavy metal components, buzzing forklifts, welding equipment, and repetitive tasks that strain workers’ wrists, knees, and backs. Tesla, like other automakers, has tried to maximize employee safety with more comprehensive training programs that, for example, encourage stretching to help reduce stress, and brought in sports trainers and massage tables for employees. assembly workers. At the same time, Musk continues to push increasingly aggressive growth targets, aiming to push Tesla’s sales to 20 million units by 2030, up from just under 1 million in 2021.

The company, which eliminated its corporate communications team in 2020, did not respond to a request for comment. He has also contested every violation found by OSHA, according to the database.

“Tesla is pretty far in terms of work ethic anywhere in the world,” Musk said in the all on top in Miami last month. “I think Tesla’s work ethic in the US is substantially higher than any other auto company or any major manufacturing company that I know of.”

“I think Tesla’s work ethic in the US is substantially higher than any other auto company or any major manufacturing company that I know of.”

Elon Musk, all on top

In his email to employees about remote work, Musk reminded them that everyone in the company needs to be in the office for at least 40 hours a week. “The older you are, the more visible your presence should be. That’s why I lived in the factory so long, so those on the line could see me working alongside them. If he hadn’t done that, Tesla would have gone bankrupt a long time ago.”

This prompted Gianpiero Petriglieri, a professor at INSEAD’s business school, to call Musk “the poster boy of the culture of overwork.

Other tech CEOs also don’t share Musk’s disdain for remote work for non-production employees, and his defense of long hours. “Today’s @elonmusk and @tesla news seems like something out of the 1950s: ‘Everyone at Tesla must spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week,'” Atlassian co-founder and CEO Scott Farquhar tweeted. adding that his company takes a different approach. “We’re looking at Atlassian growing to 25,000 employees by FY26. Any Tesla employees interested?

Aside from its OSHA issues, Tesla is being sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for alleged racism and harassment of black employees at the Fremont plant. The company is also facing lawsuits brought by several women who say they suffered sexual harassment while working at Fremont.

Following reports of plans to downsize Tesla, Musk tweeted that Tesla’s total headcount would increase, no doubt due to the company’s two new plants, but that salaried positions would remain flat.

Tesla opened new plants this year near Berlin and in Austin to accelerate Musk’s global ambitions. He has also touted Tesla’s expanding operations in China and the hard work of employees at its Shanghai Gigafactory.

“Tesla has a strong work ethic in the US, but to be totally blunt, that work ethic is outmatched, by and large, by the Tesla China team,” Musk told All In Summit. “That is, I think, objectively true. That’s not to say there aren’t hard-working people at Tesla US. Certainly there are. But I would say that, on average, the work ethic in China is higher. I’m just telling it like it is.”

To keep production running in Shanghai last month amid a strict lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, Tesla was allowed to restart its assembly line by essentially having workers do what Musk once did. Fremont: live on the floor. for several days, without leaving. It’s unclear whether Tesla required employees to work under those conditions to keep their jobs or whether the effort was completely voluntary.

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