- Posted July 26, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Civil Servants Get Ready for Layoffs 4 Days Before Election
The news today coming out of the US Department of Defense is not good if you are one of the thousands of civilians working for the military. Within 4 days of this fall's presidential election, civil servants may be receiving notice of lay off. The news is also not good if you happen to be President Barack Obama and seeking a 2nd term in office.
Defense contractors have already warned that they may begin laying off employees within a month of the election. That is also thousands of workers withot a job heading into the voting booth. Couple those numbers with the DOD layoffs and you have a scenario no President wants to face.
Tens of thousands of civilian employees in the Defense Department could receive warnings about potential layoffs four days before the November election if impending spending cuts aren't averted, hitting presidential battleground states such as Virginia and Florida hard.
The alerts would come in addition to any that major defense contractors might send out at the same time to their workers under an often-overlooked law, a prospect that is unnerving the White House roughly three months before voters go to the polls.
Frederick Vollrath, a senior Pentagon official, outlined the timeline for notification of possibly 10 percent of the 800,000-strong civilian workforce in testimony Thursday before a House panel. He cautioned, however, that no decision has been made on job cuts as Washington grapples with the looming, $1.2 trillion automatic reductions in defense and domestic programs.
The across-the-board cuts kick in on Jan. 2, and under the law, defense employees must be notified 60 days in advance — Nov. 2. Congress must be informed of any layoffs 45 days prior to that, or mid-September.
Civilian defense employees are heavily concentrated in Virginia, a state crucial to Obama's hopes for re-election. Their numbers also are significant at military bases in Florida and North Carolina, two other battleground states, and installations scattered around the country.
These states also are home to major defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp. and their construction facilities. Last week, Robert J. Stevens, chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin, told Congress that the across-the-board reductions could result in layoffs of 10,000 employees from his company of 120,000 workers.
He also signaled that notices could go out 60 days in advance to the company's employees.
The notification is required under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which went into effect in February 1989. The law designed to protect workers and communities requires employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of a plant closing or mass layoffs.
The law applies to companies with 100 employees or more.
While the possibility of layoff notices causes consternation at the White House, it also worries lawmakers whose districts are home to Defense Department employees and military contract workers.
From the Cornfield, yes, we need to rein in government spending. Yes, we need to streamline across the board including the DOD. But as we talk cuts in spending, we must also realize we are not talking abstract numbers. We are talking people's jobs. We are talking decisions that affects families.
On the political front, this is one batlle I am sure the President was hoping not to fight.