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|Wednesday, January 18, 2012|
BY LEE VAN DER VOO
A racially charged holiday greeting is fanning the flames of a trade dispute in the solar industry, one that already has business leaders and others feeling touchy.
Sent to overseas associates, the card features a wish-list of top priorities for SolarWorld, with hopes like “job creation” and “safe warranties” dashed by a shrugging Chinese man in a Santa suit.
The image of the toothy Chinese man with a somewhat Grinch-like palor prompted Ocean Yuan, founder of Eugene-based Grape Solar, to express outrage.
In a Jan. 17 letter to Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Yuan urged the duo to cut ties with SolarWorld. He said the Oregon Democrats should be “embarrassed and outraged by this blatantly racist card and disgraceful caricature attack on the Chinese” because both supported SolarWorld’s trade petition to the Department of Commerce.
SolarWorld’s Ben Santarris, in a statement on the company’s website, said the card was distributed by SolarWorld AG, the German parent company of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., which is based in Hillsboro.
“SolarWorld Industries America Inc. wishes to express its sincere apology to anyone who received an inappropriate and insensitive holiday card,” he said, indicating business contacts in Europe predominantly received an entirely different card sent by the American subsidiary.
The apology hasn’t been made personally to Yuan, who said he received the card after it was forwarded by a supplier. “I was shocked to see that,” he said. “It’s crazy.”
He has plans to circulate the image around Asian-American communities in major cities and the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus Wednesday, barring response from Merkley or Wyden.
Grape Solar and SolarWorld are on opposite sides of a debate about Chinese subsidies in the solar market. SolarWorld is leading a coalition asking for tariffs on Chinese imports, arguing China’s subsidies to its solar manufacturers are allowing the companies to dump solar cells on the U.S. market for less than the price of making them. Grape Solar is a major distributor of solar panels and among those that argue Chinese components are essential to keeping solar costs low and encouraging adoption of solar technology.
Lee van der Voo is a contributing writer for Oregon Business.
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Transforming the culture of Oregon’s educational leadership.
The Board dismissed a petition related to efforts to unionize the Northwestern University football team.
Every once in a while we receive a letter in the (fictional) mailbag that is tough to describe and quite compelling. This week, Isabel, the new HR manager at LabCo (and someone who is new to HR), wants to know whether she may fire the owner’s son for having an Oregon medical marijuana card. In passing, Isabel also makes a number of alarming admissions about her motivation. Here is Isabel’s nerve-racking question and our response to it.
Oregon Sick Leave is here, and changes to the federal white-collar worker regulations are on the way. This workshop will prepare you for both. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to start planning now for the future impact on your operations and finances.
Presented by OEN + CENTRL + YESpdx.
This Roundtable will cover numerous issues under the employer "shared responsibility" rules of the Affordable Care Act, including how to track the "full-time" status of variable-hour employees, temporary or seasonal employees, and employees who experience a change in status or a break in service. Additionally, we will provide a brief overview of Code sections 6055 and 6056, which require most mid-sized and large employers to submit their first information reports to the IRS in early 2016 regarding the health insurance coverage being offered to employees. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to prepare for the future impact of the shared responsibility rules on your operations and finances.