Reported $5/Hour Wages for Tesla Factory Workers Were in Fact 11 Times Greater

Tesla factory 1 photo
Photo: Tesla Motors
Being the talk of the town sure has its benefits, but it doesn't come without a fair share of drawbacks as well. It must be nice to see your name all over the media, but, sure enough, it won't always be portrayed in the most favorable light.
Tesla has been a constant presence in the headlines of the automotive press for the past few years, but never did it manage to gather the same amount of attention as it did with the Model 3 launch. A lot of people were excited about the prospect of an affordable Tesla sedan, and the media made no exception. However, this move into the mainstream segment will require Tesla to rethink the way it builds cars.

Part of this reshuffle is the expansion of its existing Fremont plant. The factory was previously owned by GM and Toyota, but now it's where Tesla builds all of its models (not that it has that many). During recent talks, Elon Musk, the company's CEO, speculated that the facility could be outfitted to produce up to 1,000,000 units a year, but he didn't go into detail about how that would be possible. When it was used by the two industry giants mentioned before, it went as high as 400,000 cars annually, which is a far cry from the unofficial target set by Musk.

1,000,000 units or not, work on expanding the plant is underway. On Sunday, a publication called "The Mercury News" published a story that claimed construction workers at Tesla's Fremont facility were paid as low as $5 per hour and worked for ten hours a day at least six days a week. Furthermore, using the example of Gregor Lesnik from Slovenia, who got injured and filed a lawsuit, it turned out that some of them didn't have the correct visa for performing that kind of work.

In a letter sent yesterday to Tesla, the primary contractor of the project - German company Eisenmann - showed that the Silicon Valley company paid $55/hour per worker to the subcontractor who's at the heart of the scandal - ISM Vuzem. While this doesn't dismantle Mercury News' accusations, it simply points the finger towards the subcontractor who, it would seem, had plenty of money to offer its employees decent wages. As for the visa, Eisenmann president Mark West says his company is investigating the allegations but states it had no part in the process of obtaining the visas. He also stresses that all of Eisenmann's contracts require compliance with all "permits, fees, notices, and compliance with laws."

ISM Vuzem says it will offer full cooperation with the investigation, which means it should all be sorted out quickly enough. However, as Elon Musk pointed out in one of his tweets, wherever the truth lies, one man is still injured, and that's the most important thing right now.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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