There was a reunion of sorts on Friday for many Solyndra workers who were abruptly laid off last week by the large Fremont-based solar panel manufacturer.
About 100 of them gathered at the for a morning job fair sponsored by the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board.
While many former colleagues reunited and chatted outside a lecture hall, others were inside closely following presentations on how to negotiate the labyrinth of paperwork needed to apply for unemployment benefits, continued health care coverage and other services.
“We provide a rapid response after a layoff,” said Linda Slater, an interim assistant at the investment board, which provides services for dislocated workers.
She added that the board often holds informational sessions for workers facing lay-offs at the workplace. But because Solyndra closed its doors so quickly, sessions were moved to Newark.
About 1,100 workers were dismissed by Solyndra.
“We didn’t know how many to expect today,” Slater said. “We planned for about 600 people in two sessions.” Sessions were held from 9 a.m. to noon and again from 1 to 4 p.m.
Despite the situation, the mood at the morning session seemed positive as attendees peppered presenters with questions about services available to help them through their job transitions.
Maintaining a positive attitude is a key to successful job search, emphasized Tina Dodson, director of the Tri-City One Stop Career Center. The center provides job search assistance to residents of Fremont, Union City and Newark.
For Jerry Garcia, the layoff came as an unwelcomed surprise. The 29-year-old San Jose resident worked as an equipment maintenance technician at Solyndra for nine months. Prior to that he worked at Cisco Systems in San Jose as a customer interface agent, working with the company’s routers.
“I was in a good promising job and I left to go into the green tech industry,” Garcia said.
Nonetheless, Garcia feels he will land on his feet. But he’s concerned about some of his older co-workers at Solyndra.
“Some of the 50-year-old women were crying (after the layoff),” he said, adding that it might be harder for them to land a new job right away.
Other workers who may be impacted by the Solyndra closure are veterans.
Daniel Kennerk, a veteran employment representative with Workforce Services in Fremont, was at the session to make sure military veterans know about job services available to them. He noted there are about 2,000 veterans in the Tri-City Area. His office offers career life planning, coaching and training services to clients throughout Alameda County.
Because the laid off Solyndra workers come from cities throughout the Bay Area, representatives from agencies throughout the region were on hand to offer help.
Slater said another job fair for Solyndra workers is planned for later this month at the Ohlone Newark campus. It will include the chance to meet with representatives from various companies who will chat with workers and accept resumes.
For more information about the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board, click here or call 510-259-3842.