Sunday, September 30, 2012

Yet Another WARNing Sign

Seeking a Way Around
the Law Yet Again
To begin, let's first ask the obvious question(s); why would an incumbent President with a lead in the polls -- and the press in his hip pocket -- need to sweat the details? Why would he need to embarrass himself with the relative triviality of defense employees possibly receiving layoff notices in a matter of weeks with his own grovelling for the notices to be withheld? After all, hasn't he been telling us that the economy "is improving"?

Since it's hard to tell if this administration is ever telling the truth -- and it's led many of us to believe the contrary in the past -- I cannot believe now that the economy is indeed improving. Of course my own eyes have already proven that case for me, but now the Obama team has provided yet more evidence toward that end.

In July of this year, the Labor Department issue a "guidance" to defense contractors saying that it would be "inappropriate" to issue potential layoff notices tied to sequestration. (Sequestration is the automatic budget cuts scheduled to take effect in 2013 as required by the Budget Control Act , or BCA. It was a mechanism designed to trigger on January 1, 2013 in the event that the Congressional supercommittee failed to agree on a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction package by Nov. 23, 2011).

It's been almost a year and legislators have not reached a deal. Considering that the Senate hasn't even passed a budget since this class has been seated, it's safe to say that they won't get a deal done before Election Day. That leave contractors in a bit of a bind.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), which took effect in 1989, is designed to protect workers when layoffs or plant closings are imminent by requiring employers to provide 60 days notice to the workers. It would seem that time is running out on the contractors now. Yet, the Obama administration is asking them not to send the notices.

The idea behind the WARN act was to provide workers and their families a cushion, a time to find new work and training for that new work. It was passed by a Democratically-controlled Congress with veto-proof majorities. What's more, in 2007, then-Senator Obama proposed the FOREWARN Act, which would have strengthened the WARN Act by expanding the number of companies under the law’s jurisdiction and requiring 90 days’ notice. While that bill got no where in Congress, it clearly speaks to how much stock Obama puts into the notion.

Now, however, with Election Day rapidly approaching, Obama suddenly doesn't care for the working man as he has claimed. Just this past Friday, September 28th, the Labor Department issued another guidance to contractors, again insisting that the layoff notices not go out. Why? Because Obama does not want those notices to hurt his election chances. He's not so worried about the working man now, is he?

What's even more interesting is this from the American Enterprise Institute:
The WARN Act provides employees a right that is enforced by federal courts, not the Labor Department. Even the Labor Department admits in a WARN Act fact sheet that “it has no administrative or enforcement responsibility under WARN” and therefore “cannot provide specific advice or guidance with respect to individual situations.”
So what is this "guidance" notice all about, then? Well, it seems that the Obama administration is trying to bribe the contractors. See, if the contractors do not send out the layoff notices to employees, then those employees can sue the contractors. What the Labor Department is telling the contractors is that if they follow the guidance -- not to send the notices -- that the Labor Department will pay the fines for them.

Does this sound like the regime of a man who cares about workers' rights? Obama is encouraging the contractors to break a law that he himself sought to bolster a few years ago.

How can anyone trust Obama?

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