By law, defense contractors must warn employees 60 days in advance of a layoff. The law is called WARN: Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
Because of the “fiscal cliff,” there will be major cutbacks in the Defense Department’s budget, beginning January 1, 2013. So, Lockheed Martin was planning to inform workers of possible firings. The letter was scheduled to go out on November 1.
Lockheed Martin is a major employers in Virginia, which is a key swing state.
This comes into conflict with the White House’s goal of getting voters to the polls and voting for Obama. So, the White House has sent out a letter to Lockheed Martin asking management not to send out the notification. It has promised to pay legal fees if the workers are fired, as scheduled.
What’s this? The White House will pay legal fees? On what legal basis?
Who will pay the White House’s legal fees for paying the Defense industry’s legal fees?
In July the Labor Department issued legal guidance making clear that federal contractors are not required to provide layoff notices 60 days in advance of the potential Jan. 2 sequestration order, and that doing so would be inconsistent with the purpose of the WARN Act.
I see. The law is not really the law. It’s merely a suggestion. No need to obey a suggestion prior to the election.
In Friday’s memo, the Office of Management and Budget reiterated that notice, urging agencies’ contracting officials and CFOs to “minimize the potential for waste and disruption associated with the issuance of unwarranted layoff notices.”
The guidance issued Friday told contractors that if the automatic cuts happen and contractors lay off employees the government will cover certain liability and litigation costs in the event the contractor is later sued because it hadn’t provided adequate legal warning to its employees, but only if the contractor abides by the administration’s notice and refrains from warning employees now.
Lockheed has decided not to send out the warning.
It hopes that the cuts will not be made in January. If they are made, Lockheed will face its mini-fiscal cliff. So, it has announced: “We will continue to work with leaders in our government to stop sequestration and find more thoughtful, balanced, and effective solutions to our nation’s challenges.”