Wacker Plant Hit With Lawsuit
At least 10 people, who completed a year-and-half-long program at the Wacker Institute, are now suing the Wacker-Chemie company. They claim they were promised a job, but were never able to start work or get a paycheck. They say they were supposed to start this past April.
"It wasn't just that I was let down, but I also let down my family," says graduate James Loemker.
Loemker has a wife and kids. He's like many who graduated from the Wacker Institute.
"A lot of us took out loans, some of us were sleeping in our cars," says Loemker.
They were hoping to work as chemical operators at the Wacker plant in Charleston, Tennessee making polysilicon.
The employee offer letter says if they finished the program, the students would be given a job at the plant - but that never happened.
"When it came time to hold up their end, they told us it'll be years basically don't call us, we'll call you," says Loemker.
Court records we obtained Thursday say the students were promised an annual salary of about $50,000 and a signing bonus of $3,000.
"I bought a house in Cleveland. I moved from East Ridge, I took out loans, I ended my career that I had for 7 years with another local employer," says Michael Bridges.
Wacker released a statement Thursday saying, "Throughout our 100-year history, Wacker has demonstrated a strong commitment to our people, to the environment, and to society. Our products, as well as our internal policies and procedures, reflect this fundamental commitment. We want to assure the community that Wacker remains committed to our investment in Bradley County, and our employment goals to support economic growth in the region through construction and operation of our facility. Wacker has always been a flexible, market oriented company, and in this instance, we had to adjust our construction timeline and our growth strategy due to the prevailing global economic and market conditions facing the polysilicon industry. Although we were able to preserve the jobs of our employees, we were unable to offer employment to the students at the present time. Nonetheless, we remain confident that the skills and education these students gained during their advanced technical training at Chattanooga State Community College will be of future value and can benefit them greatly, whether they ultimately join the Wacker Team, or whether their careers take them elsewhere. “
Wacker says the plant in Charleston opens in 2015. Wacker wouldn't comment when we asked if there are classes happening right now at the Wacker Institute. But, a Chattanooga state employee told us there is still chemical engineering classes offered at the college.
By Jerry Askin
More Business News
Last Update on March 27, 2015 17:24 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter and economists are looking for an even weaker showing in the first quarter as severe winter weather takes a toll on the economy.
But the slowdown is expected to be short-lived. Stronger growth is expected for the rest of the year as a recovering job market supports healthy gains in consumer spending.
The Commerce Department says the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the October-December period, an estimate that was unchanged from a month ago. The economy had surged at a 5 percent rate in the third quarter.
The final look at fourth quarter GDP found consumer spending was stronger than previously estimated but business restocking was weaker.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bad weather and rising gasoline prices pushed U.S. consumer sentiment a bit lower in March.
The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index slipped to 93 this month from 95.4 in February. Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey, notes that despite the monthly drop, consumer optimism was the highest in a decade for the first three months of 2015.
Sentiment dropped most this month among low-income households, which are especially sensitive to high utility bills in the winter. Confidence rose for mid- and high-income households. Curtin predicted that an improving job market would boost consumer spending the rest of the year.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- Europe's aviation safety agency is recommending that airlines across the continent always have two people in the cockpit of a flying aircraft.
European airlines, including the Lufthansa Group that includes Germanwings, have been making commitments to implement the measure after it emerged that the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 had apparently locked himself in the cockpit to crash the plane.
U.S. airlines revamped their policies regarding staffing in the cockpit following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But the procedure is not standard in Europe or Canada.
The European Aviation Safety Agency's executive director, Patrick Ky, says "while we are still mourning the victims, all our efforts focus on improving the safety and security of passengers and crews."
The president of the German pilots union Cockpit tells The Associated Press that his organization would support measures requiring two people in the cockpit at all times during flights, but he cautions that such a move wouldn't solve all security problems.
UNITED STATES-ASIAN BANK BLUES
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. resistance to a Chinese-led Asian regional bank is leaving it isolated among its Asian and European allies.
That's giving some heft to China's frequent complaints that Washington wants to contain its rise as a world power.
One of America's closest friends in Asia, South Korea, announced Thursday it will join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The institution is intended to help finance construction of roads and other infrastructure.
The U.S. has expressed concern that the new bank will allow looser lending standards, undercutting the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, where the U.S. and Japan have the most clout.
But since Britain broke with Washington two weeks ago, other major European economies have signed up for the Chinese-led bank. Australia also appears poised to join.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's alternate minister for international economic relations says his government is prepared for a "rupture" with the country's creditors if its current bailout negotiations don't go well.
Euclid Tsakalotos said Friday the government would not be negotiating properly if it didn't envisage a rupture with its partners, although he would not say what exactly a rupture might entail.
Greece's government is in talks with its creditors -- eurozone nations, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- to unlock urgently needed funds from the country's bailout. It must present a list of reforms by early next week, which it hopes will lead to the disbursement.
Tsakalotos, speaking on private Star TV, said the government was intentionally creating ambiguity with its partners regarding its intentions as a negotiating tactic.
SILICON VALLEY-SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jurors deciding the outcome of a much-watched gender discrimination lawsuit against a prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm are set to enter their third day of deliberations.
The jury of six men and six women are due back in San Francisco Superior Court on Friday in Ellen Pao's lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Pao says the firm discriminated against her because she was a woman and then retaliated by denying her a promotion and firing her when she complained about gender bias.
Kleiner Perkins denies the allegations and says Pao had a history of conflicts with colleagues that contributed to the decision to let her go.
The case has put a spotlight on gender imbalance and working conditions for women in Silicon Valley.
ARCTIC OIL DRILLING
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. oil storage facilities are filling up and the price of oil has collapsed, but an Energy Department advisory council says the U.S. should push now to exploit the trove of oil in the Arctic waters off of Alaska or risk a renewed reliance on imported oil.
The U.S. has drastically cut imports in recent years and transformed itself into the world's biggest producer of oil and natural gas by tapping huge reserves in shale rock formations. But the National Petroleum Council's study predicts that the shale boom won't last much beyond the next decade.
Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson chaired the committee that drafted the study. He says oil companies need to start probing the Artic because it takes decades of preparation and drilling to bring oil to market.
Geologists estimate the Arctic holds about a quarter of the world's undiscovered conventional oil and gas deposits. But environmental advocates say the Arctic ecosystem is too fragile to risk a spill.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is operating without a permanent leader. Its chairman has been forced to resign, following accusations of mismanagement.
A White House official says Rafael Moure-Eraso (rah-fah-YEL' moh-RAY' eh-RAH'-soh) stepped down Thursday at the administration's request. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.
The National Safety Council says the independent federal agency under Moure-Eraso repeatedly fell under scrutiny for board departures, delayed investigations and other issues. Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had accused Moure-Eraso of violating his oath of office and the law. Committee members had requested his resignation.
The board is responsible for investigating chemical accidents. Its members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
President Barack Obama has nominated Vanessa Sutherland to succeed Moure-Eraso.
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