Elon Musk threatens to cut 10% of Tesla white-collar workers

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Expo in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Elon Musk, CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, called for laying off 10% of the company’s white-collar workers in an internal company email on June 3.

“Tesla will reduce the number of employees by 10% because we have become overstaffed in many areas,” Musk said. He said the number of hourly employees, on the other hand, would increase.

In another email quoted by Reuters, Musk said he was ordering a “pause on all hiring globally”, saying he had a “super bad feeling” about a coming recession.

Musk then reversed himself twice on Twitter, first saying “total headcount will grow, but salaried employees should be fairly stable,” before appearing to confirm that the salaried job cut plan was accurate.

Most recently, on June 10, it was revealed that Tesla had canceled a series of virtual job fairs, which were due to take place in China this month. The events were aimed at recruiting positions in sales, delivery, research and development and supply, according to the the wall street journal.

His salaried job cut threats come shortly after the billionaire ordered white-collar workers at Tesla and SpaceX to return to the office full-time or be laid off, i.e. end the deals working remotely despite the continuing danger of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The more senior you are, the more visible your presence should be,” Musk said in a note with the subject line “To be super clear” the previous week. With his typical self-glorification, he continued: “That’s why I lived so long at the factory – so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I hadn’t done this, Tesla would have gone bankrupt a long time ago.

Tesla has become the world’s largest maker of electric vehicles (more than 936,000 vehicles sold in 2021), although it still lags far behind established automakers in terms of total number of vehicles sold. Its rise has been dependent on the intense and brutal exploitation of workers, as well as the Federal Reserve’s cheap money policies and accompanying frenzied speculation on Wall Street over the past decade.

Tesla’s soaring stock price has made Musk the richest man in the world, with an estimated fortune of more than a quarter of a trillion dollars, despite the recent plunge in Tesla’s stock value. the company.

The company now employs 100,000 people around the world in 19 manufacturing plants that, in addition to electric vehicles and spare parts, make home batteries (the Tesla Wall) and other components. Its largest assembly plants are in Shanghai, China (15,000 workers) and Fremont, California (10,000 workers) in the United States, and other assembly plants have recently opened in Texas and in Germany.

Elon Musk’s corporate empire also includes aerospace company SpaceX and other businesses. He is currently negotiating the purchase of social media platform Twitter for an estimated $44 billion. He has increasingly courted the Republican Party and far-right sections, saying he would reinstate Donald Trump’s Twitter account following his acquisition of the company.

Faced with mounting pressure on Tesla’s incredibly inflated share price, Musk is increasingly attacking the company’s workforce, seeking to further increase productivity and the exploitation of workers. “There are just a lot of super talented, hard-working people in China who believe strongly in manufacturing,” Musk said in an interview with the FinancialTimes last month. “They won’t just burn the midnight oil, they’ll burn the 3 a.m. oil, they won’t even leave the factory, when in America people try to avoid going to work at all .”

May 10 Fortune article describes the conditions of Tesla workers at its massive Shanghai factory. In April and May, its workers were forced to work 12-hour shifts, six days a week, sleeping in the factory as part of a “closed-loop system” to maintain Tesla production during lockdowns. COVID-19 in Shanghai.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Musk attacked the public health measures that had been implemented by the state of California, calling them “fascist” and cynically claiming to defend the freedom of factory workers. Musk has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the pandemic, which has killed more than a million people in the United States, promoting dangerous conspiracy theories to his social media followers.

Defying a county public health mandate during the initial wave of COVID-19, Musk reopened the Fremont factory in May 2020, daring county officials to shut him down. State and county officials quickly gave in to his demands. As a result, more than 400 factory workers caught the coronavirus by the end of 2020. Tesla and Alameda County worked together to hide the number of pandemic casualties at the factory.

“I feel abandoned, we all feel abandoned,” Fremont plant worker Branton Phillips told CBS in 2020. three to four guys who worked around him also left, and we are not told anything.

“He threatened to leave the county for Texas, and then we saw a complete change of county and state. They just turned a blind eye,” said Carlos Gabriel, another worker.

Michael A. Bynum