Brown, Ryan Introduce Bills to Update WARN Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan are championing legislation that would update the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification – or WARN – Act to protect workers such as those laid off at Falcon Transport earlier this year. 

The Fair Warning Act would make changes in notifications before site closings and mass layoffs and to administration and enforcement of the requirements, according to news release from Ryan’s office. U.S. Reps. Ryan, D-13 Ohio, and David Trone, D-6 Md., will introduce the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and Sens. Brown, D Ohio, and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will introduce the Senate version.   

In 1988, Congress passed the WARN Act to give workers and communities 60 days advance notice to an impending site closing or mass layoff. However, the effectiveness of the existing WARN Act has been undermined by loopholes and weak enforcement, according to a news release from Ryan’s office.

Among the provision of the new legislation would be to expand the statute to apply to business of 50 or more employees, including part-time employees, or with an annual payroll of $2 million or more; require employers to provide 90 days notice of an upcoming site closing or mass layoff; make employers liable liquidated damages equal to 30 days of back pay in addition to the back pay and benefits they owe under current law; and require the U.S. Department of Labor to establish a searchable database of WARN notices. 

“On a Saturday night this year, over 500 hard-working Ohioans received a text message saying they were being abruptly laid off by Falcon Trucking. It was disgraceful, disrespectful, and a slap in the face to these dedicated workers,” Ryan said in the release from his office. “They deserve better than losing their jobs – their livelihoods – without any notice.” 

During a noon conference call Wednesday, Brown also referenced the workers affected by the Falcon Transport shutdown as well as Atlas Industries in Sandusky County.

“We’ve had too many cases in Ohio of companies closing down and giving workers barely any notice that they’re losing their jobs,” Brown said in a news release from his office. “We cannot accept that the future of work means lower pay, less job security, and fewer workplace protections.”

Image via Kevin McCoy [CC BY-SA 2.0]

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