Today: Mostly cloudy and becoming windy. Showers at times. An afternoon high in the upper 50s to low 60s. An increasing North wind at 10-20mph.
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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 31, 2014 17:47 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumers expect better economic growth and rising incomes in the coming months, pushing a measure of confidence to a seven-year high in October.
The University of Michigan says that its index of consumer sentiment rose to 86.9 from 84.6 in September. That's the highest since July 2007, five months before the Great Recession began. Still, the index regularly topped 90 before the downturn.
Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist, says that almost six in ten of the respondents said the economy has improved recently, the highest proportion in more than 10 years.
The measure is the second this week to show consumer confidence has reached the highest level since the recession. Greater confidence and more hiring could lead to faster spending and healthier economic growth.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer spending fell in September, the first decline since January, as shoppers took a breather after a big spending spree in August. Income growth posted the slowest gain this year.
The Commerce Department says consumer spending dropped 0.2 percent in September. Income edged up 0.2 percent in September, the smallest monthly gain since a flat reading last December.
The spending decline followed a big 0.5 percent increase in August. In September demand fell for durable goods such as autos and for nondurable goods, a drop that partially reflected falling prices for gasoline.
Spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. Economists believe September will be a temporary pause as continued hiring gains pushing up spending and the overall economy in coming months.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The average price of gasoline in the U.S. hit $3 a gallon Friday, and should soon drop below the benchmark for the first time since December 2010.
The price at the pump fell 33 cents in October, thanks mainly to plunging oil prices, according to AAA.
Many exuberant drivers have taken to social media to post pictures of gas station signs with prices of $2.99 or lower. Drivers in South Carolina and Tennessee are paying the lowest prices, with an average of $2.75 a gallon.
Drivers in New York are paying the most in the continental U.S., at an average of $3.37. That's still 22 cents cheaper than a year ago.
Gasoline is cheaper than milk again. In September the national average price of milk was $3.73 per gallon.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Falling oil prices hardly seem to be bothering the two biggest U.S. oil companies, but things could get tougher in the coming months.
Exxon and Chevron leaned on strong performances from their refining operations to increase profits in the third quarter despite plummeting global oil prices.
The global price of oil fell 18 percent from the beginning of the quarter to the end, and it cost both companies. Revenue slipped at Exxon by 4 percent and at Chevron by 8 percent.
But low oil and natural gas prices make for low raw material costs -- and higher profit -- for refining and chemical operations, which turn oil and gas into fuels and chemicals. Profit at Exxon's refining and chemicals operations rose 38 percent compared with a year earlier, and Chevron's profit from its so-called downstream operations more than tripled.
Those results helped Exxon's overall earning rise 3 percent in the quarter to $8.07 billion. Chevron's earnings rose 13 percent to $5.59 billion.
NISSAN-AIR BAG RECALL
DETROIT (AP) -- Nissan says it's recalling more than 1,800 Infiniti SUVs in the U.S. for an air bag problem that could send shrapnel into the passenger compartment.
The recall covers the QX56 SUVs from 2013 and the QX80s from 2014. The company says inflators made by Takata Corp. were built with an incorrect outer baffle part. That can cause pressure to build up, and the inflators can rupture if driver's side air bags are deployed.
Nissan has no reports of injuries from the problem. It was discovered after General Motors recalled 33,000 Cruze compact cars for the same problem in June. The Infiniti recall is part of a larger global recall of 260,000 Nissans announced last week.
Takata says the recall is separate from another one affecting 8 million vehicles in the U.S.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Inflation has crept higher in the 18 countries that use the euro but the rise to 0.4 percent in the year to October is unlikely to offer much relief to the European Central Bank as it tries to boost a weak economy.
The official figure released Friday was up from 0.3 percent the month before.
The European Central Bank is under pressure to give the eurozone another dose of stimulus measures in coming months because inflation is so low and growth so weak. There are fears the eurozone could even fall into outright deflation, a crippling downward price spiral.
Core inflation, a key measure because it excludes volatile food and energy prices, fell to 0.7 percent from 0.8 percent.
The bank's goal is to keep inflation just below 2 percent.
LONDON (AP) -- Royal Bank of Scotland, which is majority-owned by the U.K. government, has set aside 400 million pounds ($639 million) to cover potential fines arising from international investigations into alleged manipulation of foreign currency trading.
The total represents over half the 780 million pounds the bank earmarked for "conduct and litigation costs" in third-quarter earnings released Friday.
The results show the bank, which was bailed out by the government during the 2008 financial crisis, swung back to profit during the July-September period. Its net income of 896 million pounds follows an 828 million-pound loss last year.
CEO Ross McEwan says the bank knows it has "a long list of conduct and litigation issues to deal with and much, much more to do to restore our customers' trust in us."
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