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September 6, 2011 > Solyndra closure violates public trust

Solyndra closure violates public trust

Submitted By Ross Warren

Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) issued a statement on September 1, 2001, calling Solyndra's treatment of its 1,100 workers a violation of public trust, pointing to the company's receipt of $535M in federal funds that was supposed to help Solyndra compete globally.

"It's outrageous that Solyndra locked out 1,100 employees without warning, leaving them with nowhere to go," stated Hayashi. "It is unacceptable for a corporation that received substantial government funds at a time when we're cutting healthcare for seniors and children. It's a violation of federal and state law when taxpayers' money is squandered and workers are treated so disgracefully."

Under federal and state law, businesses undertaking a mass layoff are required to give workers at least 60 days' advance notice to protect employees and their families. By ignoring the law, Solyndra did not allow employees any time to prepare for their job loss, such as seeking other employment and reconsidering major financial decisions. In addition, Hayashi believes corporations that receive tax subsidies need more oversight and that there needs to be more transparency and guidance when public funds are involved. Furthermore, policymakers must ensure that any new laws related to the green energy industry do not allow a repeat of this catastrophe.

"We should continue to support green energy projects as essential to the future of California's economy," continued the Assemblymember, "but we have to be diligent and thoughtful in how we support them. Bills like SB 134 and SB 175, which would provide a five percent price preference to California solar companies in state contracts, would benefit a company just like Solyndra without any accountability."

SB 134 and SB 175 relate to the use of California companies in public works contracts. These bills will only benefit a few companies in the solar panel industry while setting a dangerous precedent for creating price preferences for proprietary products or services. Instead, Hayashi supported SB 497, which supports any California business with 90 percent of it employees in this state.

"Channeling public dollars to a handful of private companies is poor public policy and takes California in the wrong direction," she continued. "As we've seen, giving taxpayers' money in this manner leads to corruption and to workers getting locked out. Just think if the state had received the $535M instead; we could have kept 8,900 teachers employed, saved adult day healthcare and eliminated co-pays for low-income seniors, children and people with disabilities, or even prevented the need to increase tuition at community colleges."

Assemblymember Hayashi is the Chair of the Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee and serves the 18th Assembly District, which includes San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin, most of Castro Valley and Pleasanton, a portion of Oakland, and the unincorporated areas of Ashland, Cherryland, San Lorenzo and Sunol.

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