The ongoing fight over working conditions at the Tesla plant in Fremont got Gov. Gavin Newsom's attention on Monday as protesters made a new demand for state inspectors to get involved.
Tesla has come to represent a crucial symbol in this pandemic. CEO Elon Musk got Alameda County to back down and allow Tesla to reopen, but the ongoing community debate is still shrouded in mystery: Are conditions safe?
A small band of protesters held a news conference Monday afternoon in what was billed as a rally in front of the Fremont plant, demanding the governor have health conditions inspected.
The demonstrators claim ever since the Fremont facility reopened in April after Musk defied a public health order and sued the county, there have been no outside inspections and accuse Tesla of hiding health records.
The group said more workers would like to join the protest, but fear retaliation.
"I'm extremely concerned," Tesla worker Carlos Gabriel said at the rally. "I'm one of the few that have decided not to return. I'm not afraid to lose my job because I'd rather lose my job than lose my life."
The group said workers are working long hours with inadequate safety and social distancing measures.
"So we're demanding that Gov. Newsom hire 1,000 inspectors and this plant be inspected so that workers have some protection," said Steve Zeltzer, who organized the rally.
Newsom was asked about the demonstration and demand for increased inspections during his Monday afternoon COVID-19 news conference, but gave a general answer.
"We have the responsibilities to do that," Newsom said. "It's OSHA's job pre-pandemic -- it certainly is as we work our way through this pandemic."
The protesters said they were glad the governor addressed it, but said it's been going on for months and want more action.
Tesla did not respond Monday to NBC Bay Area's request for comment.