By Juliette Goodrich

FREMONT (KPIX 5) — A small group rallied outside the Tesla plant in Fremont on Monday to demand better protection for workers from the novel coronavirus.

Those gathered at the small protest outside the factory said Tesla workers deserve to know whether the plant is a hot bed for coronavirus.

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They claimed they speak for the thousands of workers inside the Tesla plant.

“We believe workers are being infected here and there’s no tracing and no role of Cal OSHA and proper protection of the workers,” said protesting Tesla employee Steve Zeltzer.

Carlos Gabriel said he won’t return to the Tesla factory until Cal-OSHA conducts health and safety inspections. He KPIX 5 he is speaking on behalf of other Tesla employees who fear talking will get them fired.

“As a worker, I am one of the few that I decided not to return. I’m not afraid to lose my job. I’d rather lose my job than my life,” said Gabriel.

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Tesla defied public health orders and reopened the factory one week early.
In an internal email obtained by KPIX 5 Tesla reportedly acknowledged workers have been infected, but didn’t say how many. The email also claimed that all infections occurred outside the factory with “zero COVID-19 workplace transmissions.”

“After seeing how they were not enforcing any type of measures other than masks, I left,” one assembly worker told KPIX 5 anonymously. “They don’t even check our temperature anymore. No social distancing at all, not even when possible. And no enforcement of shared tool cleaning.”

“Cal-OSHA should send inspectors in here to see if workers have masks and being properly protected. That’s not happening and we are calling on Governor Newsom to hire more inspectors,” said Zeltzer.

When the governor was asked by a reporter Monday if he would support sending in more inspectors once more factories open up to reduce the threat of COVID-19 spread, Newsom replied, “We have a responsibility to do that. It’s OSHA’s job to do that function pre-pandemic.”

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KPIX 5 reached out for Alameda County Public Health officials for comment. They said federal health privacy laws prevent them from weighing in on the subject.

Juliette Goodrich