Elon Musk is apparently planning to purge Tesla factories of contractors in the strangest way possible. The company CEO is planning to cut off access to the company to any contractor who doesn't have a Tesla employee to vouch for the quality of their work.
In a recent email sent to Tesla employees and obtained by Electrek, Musk warned that outside workers will be denied entry into the factory come Monday morning. The only way to keep those extra laborers around is if a Tesla employee is willing to place their own livelihood on the line in order to attest to the contractor's skills.
Here's the full email from Musk, via Electrek:
Please note my comment below about contractor companies and consultants. I extended the performance evaluation deadline to provide more opportunity to demonstrate excellence, but now time is up.
Please send a note to HR before Monday justifying the excellence, necessity and trustworthiness by individual (not just the contractor company as a whole) of every non-Tesla person who has badge access to our buildings or network access to our systems.
By default, anyone who does not have a Tesla employee putting their reputation on the line for them will be denied access to our facilities and networks on Monday morning. This applies worldwide.
Time to scrub off the barnacles.
Musk's habit of referring to contract workers as "barnacles" also came up in the company's first-quarter earnings call. In addition to throwing a mini-temper tantrum over questions from analysts, Musk also told investors:
The number of third-party contracting companies that we're using has really gotten out of control, so we're going to scrub the barnacles on that front. It's pretty crazy. We've got barnacles on barnacles. So there's going to be a lot of barnacle removal.
(Barnacles, by the way, can play a pretty important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, but let's not that get in the way of the analogy.)
It's not clear how many people will be affected by Musk's decision to remove contractors who don't get a recommendation from a Tesla employee. The company employs nearly 40,000 people worldwide and has hundreds of contractors working in its factories at any given time. It's expected the expulsion will take place globally across all of the company's facilities.
Musk has been harping on contractors for weeks now. In another email published by Electrek, Musk bemoaned the extensive network of contractors and sub-contractors plugged into Tesla's workforce. "Many contracts are essentially open time & materials, not fixed price and duration, which creates an incentive to turn molehills into mountains, as they never want to end the money train," he wrote.
Losing a job sucks no matter what. If there is a silver lining for the contractors who will be out of work come Monday, it's that they will no longer have to work for Tesla, which seems like a kinda terrible place to work.
A recent lawsuit claimed contractors working for the company were pressured by a temp agency to accept debit cards as payment instead of a check. Workers at Tesla plant in New York went months without pay, and the company is facing a new lawsuit alleging nonpayment from a contractor in California. Tesla also has cultivated a notoriously garbage culture rife with allegations of or harassment and discrimination, so those who survive the purge will still be stuck with that.