WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) released a statement on additional mass layoffs facing employees at the Granite City Works steel plant. U.S. Steel has announced that approximately 1,000 employees will receive Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notices. This includes 400 workers whose employment was “temporarily” suspended in September without advance notice. Budzinski’s statement can be found below:
“Two months ago, U.S. Steel handed out pink slips to 400 workers as they blamed the United Auto Workers strike for reduced steel demand. Today, with strong steel prices and operations resumed at the Big Three automakers, U.S. Steel is planning to make these layoffs permanent while putting another 600 jobs on the chopping block. It’s clear that these layoffs were never about the market and always about targeting organized workers. U.S. Steel must be held accountable.
“As U.S. Steel works to close up their union-represented shop in Granite City and move operations to a so-called “right-to-work” state, it’s clear that the company’s executives are more concerned with lining their own pockets than they are with the livelihoods of the workers who have built their company for generations. I will continue to closely monitor U.S. Steel’s Strategic Alternative Review Process as we maintain hopes that an American-owned company with strong labor relations can step in to better serve our highly-skilled workers and the Granite City community.”
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.
Congresswoman Budzinski has introduced the bicameral Fair Warning Act – legislation that ensures workers and communities receive proper notice in the event of layoffs. The bill strengthens the existing Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) to hold companies accountable for employment decisions impacting the livelihoods of workers and their families.
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.