Rep. Joe Walsh (IL-08) urged Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis through a letter mailed today to provide proper guidance to defense and military industry employers who may have to lay off 35,000 employees in Illinois. In June, the Department released guidance that stated federal law that requires employers to give ample notification to employees when mass layoffs are expected was not applicable and implied it could be ignored.
"Many of my constituents have been employed for over 20 years at companies and factories that rely on defense and military government contracts," said Walsh. "Under Secretary Solis' guidance, they could show up to work on January 3rd and be told they no longer have a job without the notice required by law. And they may do this because Secretary Solis said it was ok."
President Obama signed a law known as sequestration into place that cuts $50 billion in defense spending starting January 2, 2013. Those cuts could lead to the cancelation of thousands of contracts that employ civilians and massive job losses. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires businesses employing over 100 people to notify their workers and the state within 60 days of a company's intent to lay off workers.
"Under the WARN Act, employers would need to notify their employees of potential layoffs the first week of November -- right before the Presidential elections. I do not find it a coincidence the Department of Labor has "declared' that employers don't have to notify their employees of potential job loss right before Election Day. In fact, I find it irresponsible. With this bogus guidance, the Department of Labor is not only exposing businesses to additional liability, the Department is also threatening the livelihood of every single employee who would be laid off with no notice."
The Department of Labor's advisory was released on June 30, 2012. The memo states that the advisory was released due to questions raised by federal contractors, particularly Department of Defense contractors, who were uncertain if the WARN Act required them to provide notice to employees working on contracts funded from sequestrable accounts.