Galescu stayed at Tesla because he thought it would pay off. The company promised a raise and stock options. And then there was the Red Bull.
"They bring in the Red Bull girls and give us Red Bulls to keep us hyper and keep going and stuff like that," he said.
Keep the workers going to hit production numbers.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk told investors that by next year the company will produce 500,000 cars. In 2016, Tesla produced about 84,000.
In many ways, Tesla’s success depends on hitting that target. The company's stock has skyrocketed, and as of April, Tesla is more valuable than Ford.
But workers say ramping up production has had a cost: injuries. KQED spoke to four Tesla workers who say the relentless pace often meant ignoring safety procedures and ergonomic issues. The result: People got hurt.
In a blog post, Tesla said only a small number of employees are complaining about safety conditions. Tesla also said it’s fixed many of the ergonomic and safety problems flagged by some employees.
Galescu said it happened to him. A machine that should have been fixed wasn’t.
"And the whole part came at me like a batter and hit me in the chest," Galescu said. "And sent me flying."
Galescu said he makes around $21 per hour and has a stake in Tesla. Right now, he has 29 shares.
And in some ways that’s the reputation of Silicon Valley -- overworked, intense competition, but you understand: You make it, if your company makes it.
Harley Shaiken is an automotive labor economist at UC Berkeley, and he said that ethos doesn’t really work at Tesla.
“The spirit of startups where everyone works 20 hours a day on creative, intellectual work clashes with the realities of the shop floor where the work is physically demanding,” Shaiken said. "Ultimately, it's a manufacturing plant."
And that’s how some Tesla workers see it, too. Galescu is part of a group working with the United Automobile Workers to unionize Tesla's Fremont plant.
In an email to KQED, Tesla said the importance of stock options can’t be ignored and Tesla shares have increased more than 20 percent.
But for Jonathan Galescu, the autoworker, he’s not thinking about stock options.
"My body is beat up," Galescu said. "They throw a little stock at you and then you have to wait."