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Labor Department ruling on WARN Act application to sequestration draws sharp criticism
by Gene Rector
Jul 31, 2012 | 2152 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Monday ruling by the Labor Department specifying that employee notifications under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification or WARN Act due to sequestration are inappropriate has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans.

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., said the guidance was politically motivated and designed to cover the "president's irresponsibility" in advance of the November elections.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 -- unless it is repealed or changed -- specifies that $1.2 trillion must be pulled from the federal budget over a ten-year period beginning in January. Roughly half must come from the national security budget, the act specifies. The cuts would add to the $487 billion in defense spending reductions already programmed by the Obama administration over the next decade.

A number of defense industry executives have said the WARN Act and its requirement for a 60-day notice to employees of potential layoffs must be applied. The Monday action by the Labor Department disagreed, saying sequestration-driven noticies were not called for at this time.

McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said sequestration will still result in layoffs despite the Labor Department ruling.

"But (workers) won't have the notice to protect themselves and their families," he added.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., disagreed with McKeon, calling the Labor Department ruling appropriate.

"There is no reason to needlessly alarm hundreds of thousands of workers when there is no way to know what will happen with sequestration," Smith is quoted in a press release issued by his office.

"While I did not vote for sequestration, I am fully committed to ensuring that it does not become the law of the land," he stressed. "There is way too much at stake."

Smith said the solution is simple: "Put realistic revenue options on the table and find the $1.2 trillion in savings mandated by the Budget Control Act."

President Obama has said he will veto any effort to block the cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act.

An Aerospace Industries Association report claims the nation would lose 2.14 million jobs in 2013 alone due to sequestration along with a drop of $215 billion in gross domestic product and $109.4 billion in personal earnings.

The defense sector, AIA noted, would lose one million jobs, $86.5 billion in GDP and $59.4 billion in earnings by defense workers.

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