Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a billionaire, just received an unprecedented incentive-laden pay package that could earn him tens of billions of dollars. But his employees also get something: Exhortations to work faster!
Tesla, you see, has made Elon Musk staggeringly wealth(ier), because it is the fabulous and wonderful future of cars, but it has a lot of trouble with one minor task: building enough cars. It’s tricky! The fact that Tesla has been resolutely incapable of building enough of its own product to meet demand has not stopped starry-eyed investors from bidding up the company’s stock so much that the company is worth just as much as Ford and General Motors—companies that are capable of building cars in sufficient quantities, but which do not have CEOs who also build rocket ships. So.
The people who do the actual work of building the cars at Tesla are trying to unionize. Tesla’s response to that, they say, has been to fire union supporters. Last year, Elon Musk personally urged workers not to unionize, and promised to provide them with free frozen yogurt if they listened to him.
One of the reasons that Musk’s factory employees want a union is that they say that the intense pace of the production “hell” the company forces them to work in is wearing them down and causing them physical injuries. They are sacrificing their health because Tesla cannot produce a well-functioning auto production system that operates at a safe and reasonable pace. Elon Musk, the golden futurist wizard, promotes his cars; demand grows; investors bid up the value of the company; Elon Musk grows richer; and, as a result, his factory workers’ lives become more miserable. And when they try to organize to protect themselves, they are shunned.
So that’s the context. Got it? Here we are in present day. You’ll never guess how Tesla executives have decided to solve their stubborn production problems. Bloomberg reports:
In a pair of internal memos last week, the heads of engineering and production spelled out measures to free up workers for the Model 3 line and challenged them to reach production goals. Doug Field, the engineering chief, told staff that if they can exceed 300 Model 3s a day, it would be an “incredible victory” at a time when short-sellers and critics are increasingly doubting the company’s ability to fulfill CEO Elon Musk’s vision of building a mass-production electric-vehicle manufacturer.
“I find that personally insulting, and you should too,” Field wrote in the March 23 email. “Let’s make them regret ever betting against us. You will prove a bunch of haters wrong.”
Work faster! Work harder! Prove the haters wrong! It will be an incredible victory, for Elon Musk, whose multibillion-dollar pay package depends on it! Also, if you try to unionize, you’re fired. But feel free to take some frogurt with you when you go to the chiropractor for your broken body.