Thursday, February 14, 2013

Republicans slam administration over WARN Act waivers


Congressional Republicans Thursday stepped up their criticism of the Obama administration over what they say is a legal free pass being given to defense companies facing major layoffs over looming federal spending cuts.
Republicans charged that the Obama administration is advising government contractors to “break the law” by telling them they do not need to follow mandates of the “WARN Act” which requires employers to give prior notice to workers when they know that layoffs are in the offing. The issue first emerged during last year’s presidential race, when Republicans maintained the waiver was given to avoid headlines about big job cuts in the weeks before the election.
The issue has come to the fore again as the Pentagon again faces major budget reductions in the “sequester” spending cuts go into effect March 1, cut which would like produce more layoffs for defense contractors, military suppliers and others who do business with the Defense Department. The prospect of such cuts would ordinarily trigger the two-month layoff notification requirements of the WARN Act.
The Labor Department has advised defense contractors that they did not need to observe the law, and later the White House Office of Management and Budget has said it would reimburse companies that were sued by employees for breaking the law.
“That’s right: the Obama administration is telling employers to ignore the law and forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab,” Rep. Tim Walberg, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Education and the Workforce subcommittee on workforce protections, said Thursday during a hearing to examine the issue.

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