A California state panel on Friday declined a request from Elon Musk’s SpaceX for $655,500 in state job and training funds, mentioning the chief executive’s recent threats to shift Tesla, the electric automaker that he also runs, out of the state.
The rebuff comes as Musk has sparred with officials in Alameda County because of his plans to restart production at the Tesla plant there, which was stopped due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Five members of California’s Employment Training Panel voted to decline the proposal and two voted for it, with one member absent, after talking about Musk’s tweets on Tesla’s restarting of plant and media reports of layoffs at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California headquarters in the recent times.
“In my opinion, given the recent threats of the CEO to leave the state of California, and everything else we’ve talked today, this proposal does not rise to the level for me to feel secure in supporting it,” stated Gretchen Newsom, a panel member and the political director of an IBEW electrical workers union local.
“SpaceX is a different company, but they have the same CEO,” stated Newsom, who is unrelated to California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Though the amount of money was not very large, the funding was opposed by organized labor groups. Tesla and SpaceX both don’t work with unions.
The funding from the state employment development fund was supposed to help SpaceX train 900 workers for its Starlink satellite project and hire 300 to work on its Starship program. It was not clear if SpaceX intends to move forward with its hiring plan following Friday’s rejection.
As the conflict between Tesla and Alameda County gained enough attention, officials from such states as Texas, Nevada, Georgia, Utah and Oklahoma have asked Musk about considering their state for present operations or for a new factory the company has promised.