If you’ve never heard of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, I can’t say I blame you. If you want to look it up, you can find it here. All you really need to know is that employers are required to give sixty days notice in the event of a mass layoff (29 U.S.C.A. § 2102(a)… sorry for the detail, I studied the WARN Act in law school). So two days ago the Dept of Labor told federal contractors to ignore the sixty day requirement.
This may not sound like a huge deal but it matters a helluva lot because it seems that a huge cut in defense spending is in the works which would go into effect on January 2nd. Do the math here. If sixty days notice is required and these folks are to be laid off on January 2nd, then these people will have to receive notice before November 2nd….. right before the election. Clearly defense contractors would jump to blame Democrats and Obama and apparently being held accountable is wrong. The reasoning of the DoL is that the WARN Act was not meant to give notice of a “speculative chance” of being laid off because “it is still possible that Congress will prevent sequestration”.
Questions have recently been raised as to whether the WARN Act requires Federal contractors – including, in particular, contractors of the Department of Defense (DOD) – whose contracts may be terminated or reduced in the event of sequestration on January 2, 2013, to provide WARN Act notices 60 days before that date to their workers employed under government contracts funded from sequestrable accounts. The answer is “no.” In fact, to provide such notice would be inconsistent with the purpose of the WARN Act. – Dept of Labor
This reasoning just doesn’t hold water. Congress may avoid sequestration right up to the very last minute (for anyone who has worked for the government and has had to deal with a possible government shutdown, you know how down to the wire these things can be). The whole purpose behind the WARN Act is to “protect workers, their families, and communities” (quoting the Dept of Labor here). How does not giving these workers notice of their likely layoffs protect them? How does having them scramble for a job last minute protect their families? The answer is that it doesn’t, it can only hurt them. The only party that will be protected by this change is the government.
There is only one real explanation for this change in course when you cut through the BS and that is politics. The administration does not need a huge job loss number days before the big day. This is nothing more than a politics infested administration doing what it does best and nothing more.