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Labor Dept. finds Chinese imports contributed to layoffs at SolarWorld

The U.S. Department of Labor determined last Friday that manufacturing employees laid off from SolarWorld in September are eligible for government aid because Chinese imports contributed to the layoffs.

The 186 employees were laid off after SolarWorld shut down a plant in Camarillo, California. The trade adjustment aid includes grants for health and education assistance to help them find new work.

According to SolarWorld, many of the employees will be able to take advantage of federal assistance with job placement, expenses for job hunting, relocation and retraining, supplemental income during retraining and a tax credit on health-insurance premiums.

SolarWorld's U.S. Headquarters in Hillsboro, Oregon. Photo Credit: SolarWorld

Earlier this year, the Department of Labor’s Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance began an investigation to find whether a rise in competing imports “contributed importantly” to a decline in sales or production and a need to layoff staff.

SolarWorld claimed that the plant had to be shut down “to contend with the illegally subsidized and dumped solar products of China’s government-backed export drive.”

“We welcome the federal help that might ease the plight of our former factory workers in Camarillo,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld.

“But it will neither make them whole nor offset the loss of their pioneering know-how to the world solar industry.”

“How many more U.S. manufacturing jobs must the United States lose in this most promising renewable-energy industry, which Americans pioneered, before adequate remedies are put in place to offset the illegal practices of Big China Solar?” said Brinser.

SolarWorld is the leading partner in the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), the group that filed countervailing duty and antidumping petitions with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and Department of Commerce.

In December, the ITC determined that Chinese PV imports harm the U.S. solar industry, and in March the Department of Commerce announced countervailing duties of up to 4.73 percent on Chinese imports. Commerce will issue a preliminary ruling on the dumping allegations in May, and all final determinations are expected in July 2012.


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