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 October 02, 2014 07:32 GMT
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
WASHINGTON (AP) --The Labor Department will report on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. Economists forecast that weekly applications rose a slight 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 298,000.
Also today, the Commerce Department reports on U.S. factory orders for August. In July, factory orders rose 10.5 percent, the biggest one-month increase on record going back to 1992.
Freddie Mac will report on average U.S. mortgage rates for this week. Last week, the average for the 30-year loan eased to 4.2 percent from 4.23 percent the previous week.
UNDATED (AP) -- The first reported case of Ebola in the United States has caused concern among airline investors and is raising the prospect that some frightened travelers might stay home.
Details of the man's 28-hour trip from western Africa emerged Wednesday. He flew on two airlines, took three flights, and had lengthy airport layovers before reaching Texas on Sept. 20.
Still, federal officials say other passengers on the flights are at no risk of infection because the man had no symptoms at the time of his trip.
Thomas Eric Duncan left Monrovia, Liberia, on Sept. 19 aboard a Brussels Airlines jet to the Belgian capital, according to a Belgian official. After layover of nearly seven hours, he boarded United Airlines Flight 951 to Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. After another layover of nearly three hours, he then flew Flight 822 from Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the airline confirmed.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department is following through on President Barack Obama's pledge to get the ball rolling on a higher national minimum wage in the absence of any congressional legislation to accomplish this goal.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has finalized a federal rule raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors to $10.10 an hour.
Wednesday's move puts in force a step that Obama announced last February. The Labor Department said nearly 200,000 American workers will benefit from the new minimum, which takes effect Jan 1.
The minimum federal wage is now $7.25 an hour. Obama has proposed the higher pay level for all workers, but that has drawn resistance from Republicans in Congress. In announcing the new rule, Perez says that by raising the minimum wage for workers on federal contracts, the administration "is rewarding a hard day's work with fair pay."
STOCKTON BANKRUPTCY TRIAL
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A federal judge dealing with the bankruptcy issue has struck at the sanctity of public pensions in California.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein ruled Wednesday that federal bankruptcy law allows the city of Stockton to treat pension fund obligations like other debts, meaning the city could trim benefits.
The city of Stockton argued that it must make its pension contributions for public employees before its creditors are paid the entire amount they are owned.
The case is being closely watched because it could help clarify who gets paid first by financially strapped cities around the nation -- retirement funds or creditors.
The ruling was prompted by a key creditor's contention that pension obligations should be treated like other debts.
DETROIT (AP) -- Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has testified in bankruptcy court that when he took over Detroit's finances, he found a city with poor services for residents, next to no cash flow and significant neighborhood blight.
Orr, hired by the state in March 2013 to fix Detroit's finances, took the city into the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. He was called to the stand and questioned by a city lawyer in federal court in Detroit.
Judge Steven Rhodes is to decide whether Orr's plan to remove $7 billion in debt is fair to creditors. Orr has said Detroit's unsecured debt is about $12 billion.
Orr said Wednesday that before he filed for bankruptcy, every creditor wanted to be "paid in full."
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon's labor commissioner has filed a complaint against heavy-duty truck and school bus manufacturer Daimler Trucks North America, alleging five employees at its Portland plant were subjected to racial slurs and threats.
A statement Wednesday from Commissioner Brad Avakian says the accusations will be investigated, and if they bear out, workers could be awarded damages including back pay if they've quit.
Among the allegations, according to the statement, is that a Daimler Trucks employee threatened a black co-worker with a noose, saying he'd drag the African-American behind a car.
A statement from Daimler Trucks said it doesn't tolerate discrimination and trains employees to avoid it. It also said the company is cooperating with the investigation and has hired an outside investigator to look into the allegations.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A consumer group is suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to obtain information used to justify insurance rates in Missouri.
The Consumer Council of Missouri filed the complaint Tuesday in federal court. The agency didn't immediately respond to an email to its press office seeking comment.
The consumer group says the new health insurance law requires the agency to make the rate information public so consumers have the chance to challenge the costs they pay for health insurance. But the suit alleges that HHS has denied its records request.
Missouri is one of several states allowing the federal government to run their health insurance exchange. The suit says Missouri is reliant on HHS for any information regarding health insurance plans to be sold in 2015.
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