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Wednesday, 1st September 2010

The Public Availability of WARN Notices

The Public Availability of WARN Notices (PDF)
Source: AFL-CIO

Mass layoffs and plant closures inflict enormous social and economic costs on working people, their families, and communities throughout the United States. Communities lose vital tax revenues for investment in education and social services at a time when they are most needed. Suppliers and other businesses lose important customers for their products and services. And with each layoff, hundreds of workers lose their livelihoods. Such economic dislocations, often decided upon by employers without any public input, are cause for grave concern today. Mass layoffs and plant closures affected over 2.8 million workers in 2009 alone.

The WARN Act, enacted in 1988, was intended to protect workers and communities from the most harmful effects of these layoffs and closures by requiring employers to provide advance notice of their occurrence. The community leaders and workers who are given this advance notice can then work to mitigate the effects of the job losses through retraining programs, the provision of social services, and plans that would avoid layoffs altogether. The Act, however, has proven severely flawed: numerous reports have concluded that most layoffs are not subject to WARN Act requirements; few employers act in compliance with the law; and penalties for noncompliance are so lax that they do not act as deterrents.

This report identifies previously undiagnosed flaws in the current legislation by focusing on states’ handling of WARN notices after they are filed. In particular, it seeks to find out: Do states make information about WARN notices publicly available, either in hard copy or electronically? To what degree is that information disclosed? And how easily can it be accessed and navigated? The report begins with a history of advance notice advocacy and legislation, continues with a presentation of findings and state best practices, and concludes with recommendations for the US Department of Labor (DOL) to ameliorate identified problems. The final three pages of the report contain a table showing the website addresses where state WARN notices may be found.


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