Texan construction workers put a rocket up Team SpaceX over 'unpaid bills'

'If they were to call me today, I'd tell them to f%*k off'

Amid the hullabaloo over SpaceX building out its rocket-launching empire in Texas, there are signs it's not all tickety-boo – in that it seems not everyone is being paid on time.

At least 72 liens have been filed against SpaceX and its contractors in the US state since 2019 by more than two dozen construction firms and suppliers, a Reuters investigation has found.

For those who need to know, a lien – in Texas at least – is basically a legal claim a creditor can file against a debtor's asset – so that if that asset is sold or refinanced, and the creditor is still owed a debt by the debtor, the creditor gets repaid as a priority.

It's a way for folks, particularly small businesses, to ensure they eventually get paid what they are owed, and it puts some pressure on the debtor to cough up. With scores of liens filed against SpaceX and its contractors – and some suppliers grumbling about unpaid bills – it all points to an unhappy time.

The liens against the multi-billion dollar space-faring enterprise's properties are worth at least $2.5 million, judging by the newswire's review of legal documents pertaining to SpaceX's Texas sites. The debts relate to money owed for work that businesses have done for SpaceX's expanding operations in the Lone Star state. That expansion includes rocket manufacturing facilities and homes – a shopping center and a $100 million office block are also planned.

We're told some of these liens were resolved – such as for Martin Marietta, a supply firm that had an outstanding bill of $557,611. It filed its lien in January and got paid in March, it's said.

Tesla goes back on Supercharger layoffs, rehires some workers

The financial shenanigans continue at other Musk-run companies, as Tesla is partially undoing its 500-worker layoff in its formerly moribund Supercharging division, according to Bloomberg.

It's not certain how many workers are being brought back on to the car maker's Supercharging unit, but the former director of charging for North America, Max de Zegher, is returning to his old role.

"Since 2012, Charging has been a pillar of Tesla's mission, providing dependable freedom to travel," Tesla xeeted on Friday. "Supercharging is the largest network globally, with the highest capital + operational efficiency, and we will continue to sustain & grow the network. Thank you to site hosts & suppliers for your patience as we restructure internally!"

This restructuring process seems to be impromptu. Companies don't tend to rehire laid off workers unless they realize they've made a big mistake. This isn't new territory for Musk, who rehired a bunch of Twitter workers after some were accidentally fired and others were asked to come back when it turned out they were actually necessary after all.

However, not all creditors have been so lucky. It's reported that materials supplier CMC Construction billed SpaceX in 2022 for $129,592, GC Steel & Accessories LLC charged the biz $99,591 over a year and a half ago, and Osburn Contractors LLC claims it's owed $67,289.

Subcontractors have made the situation even more complex and troublesome for those filing liens. Part of CMC's work with SpaceX involved selling materials to Osburn, and now both are reportedly filing liens. GC is in an even worse situation, as it supplied materials to another contractor, RGV Five Star Concrete LLC, which apparently can't pay GC because Five Star said it wasn't paid by a different, undisclosed contractor.

Small businesses are also reportedly getting snubbed – such as Hydroz Energy Services LLC, which is owed $19,214. One of its owners, Brian Rozelle, reportedly declared he would never do business with SpaceX again: "If they were to call me today, I'd tell them to fuck off."

Several other businesses are likewise not keen to work with Team SpaceX again according to the report – presumably because they'd like to be paid as expected. The rate of liens being filed has increased dramatically – 41 of the 72 known liens were filed just during this year.

SpaceX supremo Elon Musk allegedly has a habit of letting bills go unpaid. As the owner of X – formerly Twitter – he failed to pay a consultancy $2 million for work done with Twitter's old management, a lawsuit claimed. He's also being sued for apparently not paying former Twitter employees severance.

We've reached out to SpaceX for comment on the Texas liens and we'll update if we hear back. ®

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