“I’ve never worked for a company as cultish as Tesla,” says Carlos Gabriel, an assembly line worker who has refused to return to the plant because of safety concerns. There’s no published count of the number of workers refusing to return, but the anonymous source we spoke to estimated that 5-10 percent of workers expected at his shifts were absent. Though Tesla has said workers who refuse to return will remain employed on “unpaid leave,” Gabriel isn’t holding out hope. “If you speak up you’re either fired, frowned upon, or picked on.” “It’s a modern day sweatshop,” says Gabriel, who helped organize a small protest outside the Fremont factory on Saturday, May 16. “They’re using all the tactics they can to keep you from leaving.” By way of example, Gabriel says that all employees’ accrued paid time off (PTO) was disbursed just before the week began. Tesla said in an email that this was required by California law as a part of an employee’s extended furlough. Gabriel believes the move was made in order to force employees back to the plant, by depriving them of the ability to cash in their PTO reserves while staying home. Shifts at the plant are arduous and long — lasting between 8 and 12 hours. A 61-year-old assembly line employee named Art, who was only comfortable sharing his first name, says he and his colleagues work “shoulder to shoulder,” with no room for 6 feet of distance. Workers, many of whom travel in Tesla shuttles to the plant from several hours away, wake up as early as 3:30 a.m. to start work at the plant between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Gabriel says he often works 72-hour weeks, and Art says he doesn’t know whether his 8-hour shift will be extended to 10 hours, or when his breaks will be, until he arrives to work that day. Oftentimes, he says, he’s unable to eat the lunch friends and family bring for his shift, because his lunch break will be called hours earlier or later than expected. He adds that shift breaks are the bare legal minimum — 35 minutes for lunch, and 10 minutes to rest every two to three hours — which is difficult to maximize when he has to walk to break rooms located far from the assembly line. Fremont police in the article say they're being called to the plant anonymously by employees daily but they are simply too busy to do daily inspections. Employees say when police do show up, Tesla escorts them to specific parts of the factory that have good social distancing and won't take them into the areas that don't. Even I this sounds like sour grapes and I've made it clear I think Musk is over the top. BTW he apparently again recently responded to employee complaints of lack of safety by writing in an internal email "take the red pill" the reference to the Matrix, he also put it on Twitter.