Ex-Solyndra workers can tap $14 million federal aid package

The U.S. Labor Department has ruled solar panel maker Solyndra failed because of competition overseas, which means its former workers are eligible for federal aid.

The Labor Department has ruled that the 1,100 employees fired after solar panel maker Solyndra went belly up are eligible for federal aid under a trade assistance program for workers hurt by overseas competition. The ruling supports the view of other Obama administration officials, who argue Solyndra, which received a flagship $535 million loan guarantee from the Energy Department, failed because of Chinese competition and not because of any wrongdoing on its end. Even though there's evidence to the contrary.

Each ex-employee can receive Trade Adjustment Assistance, a $14 million package of federal aid valued at about $13,000 a head that includes job retraining and income assistance, Investor's Business Daily reported.  The Alameda County Workforce Investment Board filed the trade assistance application in September on behalf of the former Solyndra workers. The petition argued that U.S. solar panel makers have been negatively affected by a precipitous drop in prices caused by heavily subsidized Chinese manufacturers.

The Labor Department has granted extra benefits to former workers at other failed solar manufacturers. The Labor Department initially denied a request for aid to former workers at SpectraWatt, the New York solar manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy in August. It later revised its ruling after reviewing additional information including data on U.S. aggregate imports. Former Evergreen Solar workers also were granted trade assistance benefits.

[Via: Investor's Business Daily]

Photo:  Flickr user Unhindered by Talent, CC 2.0

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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