-Governor Paul R. LePage has sent a letter to President Barack Obama noting that the Obama Administration's decision to waive the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, due to sequestration, is troubling and appears to be an action timed to avoid controversy prior to the election. The WARN Act requires companies with 100 or more employees to notify affected workers 60 days prior to closures and layoffs.
The federal Budget Control Act of 2011 allowed the country to raise the debt limit but required budget cuts. If Congress and the president fail to reach agreement on those budget cuts by January 2013, sequestration--automatic, indiscriminant, across-the-board cuts--will occur.
Maine has its own statute that extends WARN Act protections by imposing a fine of $500 on each company that does not provide 60 days' notice of an impending layoff to employees. It also requires companies to pay severance pay to each laid-off employee.
To compound the problem, last month the President issued guidance through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that the federal government will pay for any fines and other costs incurred by not following the WARN Act, such as the fines that could be incurred under Maine's law.
"A million Americans are potentially affected by this federal law and with the holidays coming Maine's workers deserve to know whether their jobs are in jeopardy because of poor decision-making in Washington. These people need notice so that they can make plans for the future of their families," said Governor LePage. "It is appalling that the president is ignoring federal law and burdening taxpayers. If a million voters want to take this layoff notice into consideration before Election Day, they have that right, too," the Governor continued.
In his letter, Governor LePage asks President Obama to work with the Senate to find a solution, which would avert sequestration cuts.