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"We all feel abandoned": Tesla workers say company ignoring concerns about virus at California plant

Tesla workers are speaking out after an industry blog reported that more than 100 have tested positive for coronavirus and more than 1,000 have been exposed. The workers have raised serious concerns about their health and safety at the Fremont plant but say those concerns are being ignored.

"I feel abandoned, we all feel abandoned," Tesla employee Branton Phillips told CBS San Francisco.

Phillips says the company is leaving its workers in the dark about coronavirus cases at its Fremont plant.

"One day somebody is sick and we know that, next day the 3 to 4 guys that worked around him are also gone and we're not told anything," he says.

Phillips and former Tesla employee Carlos Gabriel, say social distancing protocols aren't being followed. They claim masks are provided but the rules aren't enforced and there's no record of sanitation of equipment.

They contend conditions started to shift after CEO Elon Musk sent out a tweet on May 9 pressuring county officials to let the company reopen the plant.

"He threatened to leave the county for Texas and then we saw a complete change from the county and the state. They just turned a blind eye," says Gabriel, who now is with Workers United Against COVID-19.

Tesla employs roughly 10,000 people at its Fremont plant and was initially forced to shut down, but Musk publicly battled with Alameda County over its shelter in place order. Just nine days after Musk sent out the contentions tweet, the county allowed Tesla to fully reopen.

Employees say they received an email from Musk that they could stay home if they felt uncomfortable or ill but Phillips says it's not a realistic option for many.

"From my understanding, everybody has been told to get back to work and that's it. That's basically it," said Phillips.

Attempts by CBS San Francisco to reach Tesla for this story were unsuccessful.

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