WARN Decision Smacks of Politics

Companies with 100 or more employees facing the possibility of layoffs must provide at least 60 days’ notice of potential job losses. That’s the law.

But federal laws are enforced by President Barack Obama’s administration, which seems to have decided it’s more important to get the boss re-elected than to give workers a heads-up their futures are uncertain.

Just a few days ago, it was learned workers at the Ormet aluminum plant in Monroe County were receiving WARN notices. The acronym stands for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, the law under which 60-day notices of potential layoffs are required.

But had Ormet been involved heavily in government contracts, there is a chance the WARN notices would not have been required by the Labor Department.

Officials there have decided federal contractors do not have to warn their employees of potential layoffs that could begin on Jan. 2 if scheduled government spending cuts occur. WARN notices issued for that reason could be handed to tens of thousands of men and women just days before the November election.

Labor Department officials say WARN notices will not be required because job losses from spending cuts are “speculative and unforeseeable.”

But so, in a way, are layoffs faced by Ormet workers and most others not involved in government contracts.

The last thing Obama wants is for tens of thousands of voters to be told just before the election that they may lose their jobs because of failures in government. The Labor Department’s decision, then, is one more example of a White House willing to stoop to any low to keep Obama in office.