WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representatives Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Emilia Sykes (OH-13) and David Trone (MD-06) joined Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) in introducing the bicameral Fair Warning Act – legislation that ensures workers and communities receive proper notice in the event of layoffs. The bill strengthens the existingWorker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) to hold companies accountable for employment decisions impacting the livelihoods of workers and their families.
Congresswoman Budzinski began exploring ways to improve the WARN Act following the closure of Akorn Pharmaceuticals facility in Decatur that left more than 400 workers jobless without the advance notice required by law. Following the closure, Budzinski was immediately in touch with impacted workers as well as state and local leaders to coordinate employee assistance and efforts to attract a new employer. She recently applauded the announcement that Rising Pharmaceuticals has opened a commercial manufacturing facility spanning 230,000 square feet in the former Akorn plant.
“Earlier this year, Akorn Pharmaceuticals left working families high and dry when they violated the WARN Act with a surprise closure of their Decatur facility. While I’m glad that a new employer has taken over the facility, it’s clear that we need to do more to protect workers and their families from unexpected layoffs,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “I’m proud to be leading bicameral legislation with Senator Sherrod Brown and Representatives Emilia Sykes and David Trone to strengthen advance notice requirements and ensure that companies are treating working people with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Too often, companies close down without giving their workers or the broader community proper notice. Workers and their families deserve better than a last-minute email letting them know they’re losing their job. While the WARN Act, established in 1988, requires certain companies to provide full-time employees with WARN notices in some circumstances, in too many cases, existing law doesn’t apply, or companies fail to follow the rules, and workers get left behind.
The Fair Warning Act would update current law by:
- Updating the statute so the requirements under the law apply to any business that employs 50 or more employees or has an annual payroll of $2 million;
- Updating definitions to ensure the legislation also covers an employer’s affiliate if they violate the WARN Act;
- Closing loopholes in notification requirements by expanding the cases where notification is required and including both full-time and part-time employees in thresholds;
- Increasing the lead-time for mass layoff or site closure notifications from 60 days’ notice to 90 days’ notice to provide workers, their families, and the community with advance notice;
- Requiring the state to establish a Rapid Response committee and an individual to lead that committee within 20 days of a WARN notice being issued so that affected employees can quickly get the training and other support services they need to prepare for their job loss;
- Strengthening enforcement provisions under the law to enhance compliance;
- Protecting employees’ rights to bring suit if their employer violates their WARN Act rights; and
- Requiring the Department of Labor to create and make public a searchable database of all WARN notices.
The full text of the legislation can be found here.