Workers Laid Off from SolarWorld Factory Can Tap Federal Trade-Dislocation
Assistance can include help with job placement, retraining, expenses
HILLSBORO, Ore. -- July 22, 2013
Many of about 50 SolarWorld workers who will lose their jobs late this summer
will be eligible for federal “trade-adjustment” assistance because the U.S.
Department of Labor has determined that Chinese solar-panel imports were a
cause of their impending layoffs, the company announced today.
Many of the laid-off workers, most of whom grow silicon crystal and cut
crystals into solar wafers in SolarWorld’s factory in Hillsboro, Ore., will be
able to tap benefits such as job-placement assistance; expenses for job
searches, relocation and retraining; income support during full-time
retraining; and tax credits for health-insurance premiums.
SolarWorld says it is idling the crystallization and wafering departments in
Hillsboro as the company develops ground-breaking, cost-reducing technologies
in factories in both Hillsboro and Germany. Meantime, SolarWorld says, China’s
sustained solar import dumping on the U.S. market means the company can no
longer continue to produce solar wafers in Hillsboro using conventional
crystallization methods. Without dumping and subsidies, China has no cost
advantage over U.S. manufacturers on wafers or any other aspect of solar
After the layoffs, SolarWorld, as a global company, will remain a
vertically-integrated producer and employ more than 700 Americans. The
Hillsboro campus will remain by far the largest solar cell and panel producer
in the Western Hemisphere.
Chinese solar cell and panel imports are subject to tariffs averaging about 31
percent as a result of exhaustive, 13-month federal investigations concluded
in late 2012. Those probes found China’s government illegally underwrites its
solar export aggression and its state-sponsored producers illegally sell below
production costs in the U.S. market. A loophole in the U.S. determinations,
however, means that Chinese producers can evade duties by making panels in
China using solar cells from other countries.
The loophole, which SolarWorld is appealing to the U.S. Court of International
Trade, stands even as China subsidizes every phase of solar-panel production,
including wafer-making and panel assembly, to fuel its dumping campaign,
according to the company. Government subsidies for exports, it says, are
illegal under world trade rules.
Industry statistics, the company says, demonstrate that the Chinese industry
has continued to harm the U.S. market with products from its vastly overbuilt
industry by selling them even further below costs. A report from Greentech
Media and the Solar Energy Industries Association released in the spring shows
that Chinese-led solar panel pricing in the U.S. market has fallen about 8
percent a quarter since SolarWorld requested the federal trade investigations.
These price declines, according to SolarWorld, cannot be explained by
technology or efficiency improvements.
Meantime, SolarWorld says, China’s illegal trade practices have destroyed
additional U.S. capital and jobs, dried up yet more corporate funding for
innovation and further slowed the industry’s development, which fair
international competition had driven to the recent point of market adoption
when China’s economic planners targeted the industry for domination. In the
end, the company says, consumers could suffer most: If China eliminates U.S.
competition, it would be forced to jack up prices to offset massive losses.
The Chinese producers’ own ruinous financial results, SolarWorld says, detail
how much they, too, suffer from the very market distortions that their illegal
trade practices create. However, the company says China’s government continues
to prop them up, extending the market distortions and resulting industry
carnage outside of China.
“All of our workers had one thing in common: They are committed to U.S.
manufacturing jobs in the very industry that their American peers helped
pioneer,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America
Inc., based in Hillsboro. “It’s doubly wrenching, therefore, that we have been
forced to lay them off as a result of China’s unfair, illegal and
unsustainable trade practices.
“We look forward to a day when China’s illegal and retaliatory trade actions
are stopped, so that SolarWorld’s U.S. operations can expand, rehire, and lead
the next generation of solar innovation.”
SolarWorld AG manufactures solar power systems and in doing so contributes to
a cleaner energy supply worldwide. The company, located in Bonn, employs
approximately 2,600 people and carries out production in Freiberg, Germany,
and Hillsboro, USA. From raw material silicon to the solar module, SolarWorld
manages all stages of production ‒ including its own research and development.
Through an international distribution network, SolarWorld supplies customers
all over the world with solar modules and complete systems. The company
maintains high social standards at all locations across the globe, and has
committed itself to resource- and energy-efficient production. SolarWorld has
been publically traded on the stock market since 1999. More information at
SolarWorld Industries America
Media Relations Manager
Devon Cichoski, 805-388-6388 (Office)
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