Having complained over the weekend about being the only carmaker in the US still shuttered by the Covid-19 lockdown, Musk announced on Monday that Tesla is restarting production “against Alameda County rules.”
I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.
The state has approved the factory to reopen, he explained, but an “unelected county official illegally overrode” that decision.
Speaking at a press conference in Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom said he expected the Tesla plant to reopen next week, and that he will speak with both local officials in Alameda County and Tesla management about the situation.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a Twitter rant late on Saturday, that saw Musk branding California county’s chief health official “ignorant,” after the local authorities refused to give the company the green light to reopen its plant with more than 10,000 workers in Fremont due to coronavirus restrictions.
While Newsom did not say whose side in the dispute he would take, Musk quickly tweeted “Thank you governor” when a video of Newsom’s remarks was posted online.
Monday’s reopening is the latest move in the ongoing drama between Musk and California.
Tesla sued the county on Sunday, asking for an injunction against the local officials, saying in a tweet that they were acting “contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms and just plain common sense!”
Tesla’s facility in the neighboring San Joaquin County was open and working normally, the company’s lawyers said.
The South African-born businessman has raged for days over the fact that Tesla – the only US manufacturer of exclusively electric cars – was forced to stay shut while other carmakers were allowed to operate.
He also threatened to move his business elsewhere if California continued to obstruct Tesla’s operations.
While people in the states he mentioned as possible destinations seemed pleased – Texas Governor Greg Abbott, for example, welcomed the idea – more than a few high-profile Californians proceeded to denounce Musk.
State assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, for instance, tweeted obscenities at Musk on Saturday and complained Tesla is a “company that has always disregarded worker safety & well-being, has engaged in union busting & bullies public servants.”
She also implied Musk was racist for wanting the lockdown lifted, because Covid-19 deaths in California are “disproportionately Latino.”
Another outspoken critic of Musk on Twitter has been former Clinton administration official Robert Reich, who accused the tech innovator of being a “callous billionaire with little regard for workers” who valued his “own profit over people’s lives during a pandemic.”
He later complained when Musk blocked him.