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A Dangerous Sport: Obama Offers To Reimburse Companies If They Violate Federal Labor Law

A government of laws or of men?

Trying to ride two horses with one ass is something that is best left to movie stuntmen (or the very stupid) because, in the end, people get trampled.

However, that is precisely what Barack Obama’s administration is trying to do by telling encouraging defense contractors to violate federal law. Then, as if that weren’t enough, Obama’s Office of Management and Budget is offering to use taxpayer money to not only cover the legal costs (including attorney fees), but employee compensation as well, should the would-be labor law violators be sued.

Let’s back up for a moment, shall we?

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (The WARN Act) is a federal law. According to the Department of Labor, said federal labor law is to protect workers, their families, and communities

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.

Employee entitled to notice under WARN include managers and supervisors, as well as hourly and salaried workers. WARN requires that notice also be given to employees’ representatives, the local chief elected official, and the state dislocated worker unit.

Advance notice gives workers and their families some transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain other jobs, and, if necessary, to enter skill training or retraining that will allow these workers to compete successfully in the job market. [Emphasis added.]

Now, with the presidential election only a few weeks away, the Obama campaign has a potential political disaster on its hands.

On January 2nd, under the Budget Control Act of 2011, $1.2 trillion in spending cuts will be made–half coming from the defense budget. One analysis estimates that over two million jobs are at risk in 2013 due to the sequestration rules under the Budget Control Act–not all of them defense related.

However, in the defense industry, as Investor’s Business Daily aptly points out:

The law requires $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, half coming from defense on top of a half-trillion in cuts already made by the Obama administration. That means layoff warning notices will be required by law to go out to hundreds of thousands of workers employed by defense contractors on Friday, Nov. 2, just days before the presidential election, a prospect President Obama and his campaign staff do not relish.

In July, one of those defense contractors, Lockheed Martin, stated that it might have to issue layoff warnings to a “substantial number of our employees, starting late in the third quarter.”

This, in turn, has set off alarm bells in the Obama White House campaign headquarters, which, in turn, caused Obama’s Office of Management and Budget to send out a memo on Friday offering to cover companies’ costs (legal and employee compensation costs) if the companies follow the administration’s “guidance” and violate ignore the law:

…any resulting employee compensation costs for WARN Act liability as determined by a court, as well as attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs (irrespective of litigation outcome), would qualify as allowable costs and be covered by the contracting agency, if otherwise reasonable and allocable.

The Obama administration’s offer to raid the public treasury to reimburse labor law violators if they’re sued apparently worked for Lockheed Martin:

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin heeded a request from the White House today — one with political overtones — and announced it will not issue layoff notices to thousands of employees just days before the November presidential election.

[snip]

Such massive layoffs could have threatened Obama’s standing in the state [Virginia] he won in 2008 and is hoping to carry again this November.

On its website, Lockheed Martin stated:

The additional guidance further ensures that, if contract actions due to sequestration were to occur, our employees would be provided the protection of the WARN Act and that the costs of this protection would be allowable and recoverable.

Translation? Obama’s offer to reimburse contractors for breaking the law worked (at least in one case…so far).

With Sen. Lindsey Graham calling the scheme “patently illegal,” Republicans, of course, are not happy with Obama’s putting his own re-election above the law:

In a statement Friday, GOP Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte accused Obama of putting “his own reelection ahead of the interests of working Americans and our national security by promising government contractors that their salary and liability costs will be covered at taxpayer expense if they do not follow the law that requires advance warning to employees of jobs that may be lost due to sequestration. … Apparently, President Obama puts politics ahead of American workers by denying them adequate time to plan their finances and take care of their families. The people who work in the defense industry and other government contracting companies deserve as much notice as possible that they are on track to lose their jobs.”

So, there you have it: The President of the United States putting his re-election above of the law–something that America’s Founding Fathers sought to avoid.

When America becomes ruled by men in all their capriciousness and not by laws, tyranny is sure to shortly follow.
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“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com

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