President Obama wants to prevent thousands of employees, especially in swing-state Virginia, from being told that they are going to be laid off due to Department of Defense funding cuts. Because of the timing of the cuts, those notices would have been sent to employees just prior to the election in November. The man who signed those funding cuts into law would like to avoid that.
When the administration first proposed this idea back in June, defense contractors patiently explained to the reelection-obsessed President that there is a law, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification ("WARN") Act of 1988, that requires federal contractors to tell employees 60 days in advance of expected layoffs. . Companies that fail to meet their obligations under the WARN Act can be sued by their former employees. Defense contractors indicated that they would not be ignoring their legal duty under the WARN Act.
"Sequestration," as the policy wonks termed it, was intended to be such an obvious disaster that it would spur Obama and Congress to work together to solve their differences. Like many bright ideas from Washington, D.C., it has failed miserably. As a result, many defense contractors should be preparing to issue layoff notices. The Obama administration's solution for these companies -- and for Obama's electoral hopes in Virginia -- was tucked in the Friday guidance: Simply don't warn employees that they're about to be fired and the Department of Labor will pay the legal bills after fired employees sue for violating the WARN Act.
Obama is asking these companies to break the law and obligating the taxpayers to foot the bill. Ironically, the WARN Act is just the sort of employee protection that Democrats have traditionally championed. But that went right out the window the minute it complicated a Democrat's reelection effort.
4 more years ? ya right