With the Gulf oil spill causing outrage on both the Left and the Right, Barack Obama needs some good press, especially on energy. The White House hoped to provide that this week with visits to to solar-power producers Tuesday and Wednesday, making the argument that green energy is good for the economy. Perhaps, but as workers at Solyndra in Fremont discovered, presidential visits aren’t good for their own economy (via The Blog Prof):
Construction workers at the Solyndra Plant in Fremont will be spending the day at home Wednesday without pay as President Obama visits the company to praise its work on solar panels.
Union workers have been told not to come back until Thursday because of security concerns associated with the President’s visit. Workers tell KRON 4’s Kate Thompson this day off means they won’t get paid.
“It’s with no pay and we have no choice,” construction worker Adam Bracamontes told Kate. “We have to take a day off and come back Thursday. We don’t get to meet the President. We’re the workers and we don’t get to see him.”
“I’m a little bummed because I would love to meet the President,” worker Rich Patten added. “We were told we had the day off so it is what it is.”
KRON 4’s Gabe Slate reports the President chose Solyndra because it received stimulus funds to help create green jobs.
Neither the company nor several unions returned Kate’s calls for comment on why the workers were losing a day’s pay for the President’s visit.
It’s not exactly the most apt demonstration of job creation to send employees home without pay. The situation proved embarrassing enough that Solyndra tried offering a bit of late spin after the event yesterday:
In a follow up to the story, Kate says 800 employees, all of whom work the day shift were not given a choice and had to take the day off without pay. Their paychecks for this week will show four days worked, not five.
The general contractor on the project, Rudolph and Sletten, say workers were notified two weeks ago about the unpaid day off. However, Kate reports Solyndra officials say the company was only told about the President’s visit seven days ago.
The contractor says because of the day off, the contract on the project will be extended by a day. That company says the pay will even out since workers will get an extra day’s paycheck at the end of the project.
Surely someone at the White House would have considered the optics of having a visit by President Obama cost workers a day’s pay, especially in this economy. Then again, no one considered the optics of going on a green-energy tour while oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico. It looks somewhat like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.
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