Continuing Obama Administration Lawlessness
In the face of impending budget sequestration set to maul the Department of Defense (and the defense industry), the Obama Administration has said—through OMB—that the government will cover all the costs of defense contractors who violate the WARN Act.
It’s all remarkably reminiscent of getting an Obamacare waiver (assuming you’re on the correct team), except this is a violation of the law.
And what is the WARN Act? In a nutshell, it’s this:
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) protects workers, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.
WARN Act notifications are supposed to go out 60 days in advance of mass layoffs, which is just what the defense industry is facing with sequestration. That 60 days would be about a week before the general election. Is this a nakedly political act of extra-legal malfeasance?
(Cue Scooby Doo voice) Absorootreigh.
The political goal is transparent—let the sleeping dog of up to 1 million layoffs lie—but the legal disconnect is significant: the Administration lacks the authority to make such a promise in violation of the Constitution. (However, it should be noted this is not the first time—or the second time—the Administration has chosen to ignore the law.)
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin has already decided to cave and not sent the required WARN Act notifications.
Lockheed Martin—and the rest of the defense industry—are in a tough spot: if they don’t comply with the Administration their programs could be marked in the next President’s Budget (assuming an Obama victory); they might worry about programmatic payback as a result of their non-compliance (assuming a Romney victory); either an Obama or a Romney Administration might not honor this bogus promise; finally, non-presidential politicos (with professional and personal staffs and having the authority to mark fiscal legislation) have memories as well.