We are bombarded daily with negative news about industry practices including the auto industry. Rather it be airbags failing to work, key switches that failed to work properly or manufactures knowingly deceiving EPA emissions and MPG test. As the outer layers of the onion are peeled away it seems the situation get worse and worse as investigators discover the manufacture knowingly allowed something to happen that could lead to injury or death.
If you have been following the Tesla news regarding the contract worker Gregor Lesnik from Slovenia then you probably have read the very informative article from The Mercury News. In this article they identify Lesnik as an unemployed electrician being hired by ISM Vuzem a sub contractor of Eisnmann the contractor that Tesla hired to build out the Paint Shop at the Fremont Factory.
The article continues to suggest that Lesnik was brought to the US under a false B1/B2 visa, paid the equivalent of only $5/hour, and worked for 10 hour days without proper overtime compensation. Lesnik was injured on the job and even today is still recuperating and unable to work.
What I find interesting is the response from Tesla and Elon Musk himself. Musk tweeted on May 15th
“Only heard about this today. Sounds like the wrong thing happened on many levels. Will investigate and make it right.”
The next day Tesla wrote an article on their blog. There are some interesting comments by the company. First tesla speaks from the legal perspective
“As far as the law goes, Tesla did everything correctly. We hired a contractor to do a turnkey project at our factory and, as we always do in these situations, contractually obligated our contractor to comply with all laws in bringing in the resources they felt were needed to do the job.”
Turning toward the workers compensation suit Tesla mentions Cal/OSHA investigated and found that Tesla was not a fault.
“When Mr. Lesnik brought a workers compensation case, Tesla was dismissed from the case because the judge concluded that we had no legal responsibility for what occurred.”
But then the response take a turn Tesla confirms that they will make the situation right.
“All of that is fine legally, but there is a larger point. Morally, we need to give Mr. Lesnik the benefit of the doubt and we need to take care of him. We will make sure this happens. We do not condone people coming to work at a Tesla facility, whether they work for us, one of our contractors or even a sub-subcontractor, under the circumstances described in the article. If Mr. Lesnik or his colleagues were really being paid $5 an hour, that is totally unacceptable. Tesla is one of the highest paying hourly employers in the US automotive industry. We do this out of choice, because we think it is right. Nobody is making us do so.”
And to top it off
“Creating a new car company is extremely difficult and fraught with risk, but we will never be a company that by our action does, or by our inaction allows, the wrong thing to happen just to save money.”
Honestly in this time that we live in what other auto manufacturer will make a statement like that? Yes Tesla is a publicly traded company and needs all the capital it can get to build the sell the Model 3. Cash is king and they are still beholden to their shareholders but to make a statement like that indicates someone has morals and is will to back it up. Of course time will tell and as Tesla investigates further they are discovering some inconsistencies with the article Musk went back to twitter with this comment.
“We still need to make sure that the injured person is taken care of, but less & less of the Merc story appears to be true”
I do believe Tesla will do the right thing for Lesnik and hold their contractors more accountable in the future. As for Lesnik I hope he has a full recovery and is paid the compensation he deserves. It is very refreshing to see these comments, transparency and action from a company, especially one that holds my safety and wellbeing every time I get behind the wheel