Solyndra target of FBI as workers look for jobs

September 9, 2011 7:45:53 PM PDT
There is some encouraging news for the 1,100 laid-off Solyndra employees in Fremont. Many of those former employees attended a job fair in Newark on Friday, though employees admit they don't know where they'll be going or where they'll be a month from now.

About 90 people turned out for the event on Friday at Ohlone College. Those employees saw their full-time jobs turn into a lack of a job when the solar panel manufacturer declared bankruptcy with no notice.

Linda Sterio worked in engineering as a document control specialist. She could hardly hold back the tears when she told ABC7 News her story.

"My grandkids live with me," Sterio said. "My husband is very sick. We have no benefits, and he takes a lot of medication, so I need to find something."

Sterio says she's afraid her unemployment check won't even cover her health insurane.

Mechanical technician Bobby Strickland is also on the edge.

"I was employed, bills were getting paid, kinda had no worries," Strickland said. "And then, all of a sudden, it just came crashing down."

Strickland is single, but unemployment will just be a short-term fix for him. When asked what kind of job he'd take now, Strickland responded, "Anything."

Alameda County's Workforce Investment Board (WIB) is holding the Solyndra worker-only event with the hopes of providing job, employment and stress counseling information.

WIB did something similar when the NUMMI auto manufacturing plant shut down in Fremont. In that case, 1,500 of the 4,000 former NUMMI employees were placed into jobs and many more were re-trained for other industries.

WIB says they like what they see in the Solyndra workers.

"We've had several calls from different employers who are interested in looking at this group," Linda Slater with WIB said. "They have job openings so they will be coming here to provide information about their companies."

Hopefully, one of those calls will be for Sterio -- without a job, her home may soon be the next to go.

"I'm one step out the door," Sterio said.

WIB said they did everything they could to get the word out about Friday's job fair. Another one will take place in the same location on September 21.

Struggling Solyndra target of federal probe

On Thursday, the FBI executed search warrants at Solyndra's Fremont plant, carting away boxes of evidence.

ABC News has learned that agents also searched the homes of CEO Brian Harrison and two Solyndra founders, checking over computer files and documents.

Solyndra received $535 million in federal loan guarantees before filing for bankruptcy and blindsiding a lot of people.

"It definitely puts a bind on cash flow," said business owner Phil Segundo.

Segundo owns Advantage Metal Products along with his brother. The Livermore company built catwalks, robotic pallets and other equipment used in Solyndra's Fremont factory. Segundo said Solyndra was paying its bills on time until a few months ago, and then he received a call from another customer.

"I said, well what's going on here?" Segundo said. "They said, well I've got bad news for you, if you have orders, they went bankrupt today. And that threw me off."

Segundo said Solyndra owes him hundreds of thousands of dollars. Advantage Metal Products has had to increase other production to keep its 65 workers on the job.

"It's hard right now," Segundo said. "It's slim pickings as far as the business goes for manufacturing."


Load Comments