Obamas Labor Department on Monday issued “guidance” to the states, telling them that a federal law requiring advance notice of mass layoffs does not apply to the layoffs that may occur in January as a result of automatic budget cuts known as “sequestration.”
Inhofe, appearing on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, said President Obama, through his Labor Department, “is trying to intimidate businesses, companies, corporations — not just defense contractors — into not issuing the pink slips,” which are required by federal law 60 days before mass layoffs or plant closings.
“The president doesnt really want all these pink slips going out five days before the election,” Inhofe said.
He noted that if the automatic budget cuts kick in on Jan. 2 — as they will if Congress cant reach a deficit-reduction agreement — layoff notices would have to go out no later than Nov. 2. The general election is on Nov. 6.
Under the WARN Act — The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act — companies with more than 100 employees must give 60 days notice if there is to be a mass layoff during any 30-day period for 500 or more employees or for 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33% of the employers active workforce.
But in guidance issued on Monday, Assistant Labor Secretary Jane Oates said never mind about those pink slips:
“Questions have recently been raised as to whether the WARN Act requires Federal contractors…whose contracts may be terminated or reduced in the event of sequestration on January 2, 2013, to provide WARN Act notices 60 days before that date to their workers employed under government contracts funded from sequestrable accounts. The answer to this question is no. In fact, to provide such notice would be inconsistent with the purpose of the WARN Act.”
In its guidance, the Labor Department also noted that “efforts are being made to avoid sequestration,” making its occurrence “not necessarily foreseeable.”
“You cant not comply with the law,” Inhofe said on Tuesday. “Put yourself on the board of directors of Lockheed Martin. If they came out with a class-action suit of a thousand dollars per employee, that would be $120 million. You bet theyre going to send out pink slips. And by the way, they dont have to wait until Nov. 2. They can send them out today if they want,” Inhofe added.
Sens. John McCain R-Ariz. and Kelly Ayotte R-N.H. also criticized the Obama administration for the “obvious political aim” of its guidance on the WARN Act.