It appears that Tesla will be reducing the workforce at its Fremont, California factory by about 75 percent. According to Automotive News, the announcement came from Alameda county spokesperson Ray Kelly. The move is in response to a county-wide shutdown of businesses deemed nonessential in an effort to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the Alameda County Sheriff's office had tweeted out that it considered the California company to not be an essential business, indicating that it expected the factory to be mostly shuttered. Work at the factory appeared to continue as usual today in apparent defiance of the order. CNBC reported that the Human Resources director at Tesla, Valerie Workman, had said it remained open because of "conflicting guidance" it had received from different government agencies.
The announced reduction in the workforce appears to have been the result of negotiations between Tesla and the Sheriff's Office. Of the situation, spokesperson Kelly said, "We had a positive conversation, and it sounds like they are beginning to comply with the health order." For its part, Tesla is not responding to requests for comment.
The automaker employs about 10,000 people at its Fremont plant. It is unclear whether the continuing 2,500-strong workforce will continue as a single shift or several "skeleton crews."
Tesla had recently sent out a memo to employees recommending they not come to work if they were experiencing any symptoms and assuring them that they could use their personal/paid time off (PTO) for up to 80 hours. They could also choose to stay home without pay and without penalty.
The COVID-19 crises has strongly affected Tesla's share price in recent days as it has tumbled, along with the stock market in general, from recently gained lofty heights. It closed at $361.22, down 16.03 percent on the day. The company had just celebrated its first deliveries of the Model Y, an all-electric crossover that shares a platform with the company's successful Model 3, which gets as much as 316 miles per charge.