Federal law requires that when a large employer anticipates it may have to lay off workers, it must issue notices of the possibility to them. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act mandates such notices.
But when officials at Lockheed Martin, the giant defense contractor, decided they ought to send out WARN notices to as many as 123,000 employees just a few days before the presidential election Nov. 6, the White House erupted.
The law is the law, Lockheed Martin responded. In view of big spending cuts the Pentagon will be required automatically to make Jan. 2, unless Congress acts to stop them, the company would risk breaking the WARN law.
So desperate was the White House to avoid the Lockheed Martin WARN notices that it tried to make a deal. The Office of Management and Budget offered assurances the Pentagon will not cancel any contracts on Jan. 2. And, the administration added, the government instead of Lockheed Martin will make payments required by the WARN Act to any workers who are laid off - providing the company does not issue the WARN letters.
The bottom line is the White House offered Lockheed Martin our tax dollars if the company forestalled action required by law - but which might cost Obama votes.