Elon Musk’s net worth quadrupled from $25 billion to over $100 billion during the 4 months Tesla forced all workers to take a 10 percent pay cut
As coronavirus spread around the country in April, millions of Americans lost their jobs and many were forced to file for unemployment benefits. For the most part, big technology companies were largely insulated from the pandemic. However, that did not stop Tesla from announcing pay cuts, furloughs as the company aimed to get back to production.
In an email to employees leaked to several media outlets on April 7, Tesla announced immediate pay cuts and furloughs for its employees while it also says that it plans to resume production by May 4. Due to the shelter-in-place order in the Bay Area, the electric car giant shut down its Fremont factory two weeks earlier.
However, during the same period, In the same period, Tesla stock skyrocketed and CEO Elon Musk’s net worth quadrupled from $25 billion to over $100 billion. According to Observer, Elon Musk made $88 billion during a historic economic crash.
As our readers know, we love Musk and everything that he stands for. As such, we’re in no way resentful of his success. However, we think Musk should have at least tried to pay Tesla’s employees during those difficult months. For example, as we told you back during the same period, Palo Alto Networks CEO, Nikesh Arora, forgoes his salary and commits not to lay off employees during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fast forward to September. Robert Reich, the Clinton-era labor secretary and now a researcher of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, criticized Musk over pay cuts earlier this year and called him a “modern-day robber baron.”
In a tweet on Tuesday, Reich said, “Tesla forced all workers to take a 10 percent pay cut from mid-April until July. In the same period, Tesla stock skyrocketed and CEO Elon Musk’s net worth quadrupled from $25 billion to over $100 billion. Musk is a modern-day robber baron.” Musk fired back calling Reich a “modern-day moron.”
“All Tesla workers also get stock, so their compensation increased proportionately. You are a modern day moron,” Musk tweeted.
All Tesla workers also get stock, so their compensation increased proportionately. You are a modern day moron.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 9, 2020
Below is the full email Tesla sent out back in April.
Thank you for your continued commitment to Tesla and our mission during this unprecedented time. We know that the uncertainty has not been easy, and we are doing everything we can to keep you safe and informed while also navigating the changes around the world.
While we are continuing to keep only minimum critical operations running, we expect to resume normal production at our US facilities on May 4, barring any significant changes. Until that time, it is important we take action to ensure we remain on track to achieve our long-term plans. Starting Monday, April 13, we are implementing the below actions as part of a broader effort to manage costs. This is a shared sacrifice across the company that will allow us to progress during these challenging times.
- Pay will be temporarily reduced for salaried employees.
- For US employees, these reductions are 30% for Vice Presidents and above, 20% for Directors and above, and 10% for everyone else.
- For non-US employees, there will also be comparable reductions, of which the specifics will be communicated by the local leadership team in accordance with local laws and works-councils.
- These reductions are expected to be in place until the end of Q2.
- Employees who cannot work at home and have not been assigned to critical work onsite will be furloughed.
- Under furlough, you remain an employee of Tesla (without pay) and retain your healthcare benefits. You will not report to work until the furlough ends and you are directed to return by management, which we expect to be May 4.
- A furlough notice will be emailed to you in the coming days with additional instructions on how to apply for unemployment benefits through your state agency.
- For the vast majority of furloughed employees, unemployment benefits will be roughly equivalent to normal take home pay.
- Certain employees will be assigned to critical functions and they will continue to report onsite. Those employees will be communicated to directly by their manager or HR partner.
For the merit review cycle:
- Salary and hourly rate adjustments will be put on hold.
- Equity grants will be on hold as well.
If you would like to take a voluntary leave of absence, as some have reached out to request, please discuss with your manager and HR partner.
We continue to monitor the situation closely, and our top priority is to ensure the safety of our employees. As usual, for those who are onsite, if you are sick or are uncomfortable coming to work, please contact your manager and stay at home. We respect your decision and you will not be penalized. For HR-related questions, contact your HR partner or email [redacted].
Thank you all so very much for everything you do to ensure the success of our company.
Valerie Capers Workman | North America HR + AU/NZ/JP/KR Registered In House Counsel