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Legislative Memo

Ken Pokalsky
Vice President of Government Affairs
T 518.465.7511
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

S.8212 (Robach)/A.10847 (Eddington)

Support

SUBJECT:

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act

 

DATE:

June 18, 2008

 

The Business Council opposes this legislation that would create a state-level version of the Federal “Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.”  

This bill continues an unfortunate trend by which New York imposes more onerous state-level versions of federal requirements.  In doing so, this legislation makes the state's regulatory climate incrementally less competitive than that found in most other states, let alone compared to our foreign competitors.

Federal law already requires employers of 100 or more to provide 60 days notice to affected employees if there is a planned plant closing affecting more than 50 workers at a single site of employment, or a planned “mass layoff” affecting more than 50 employees, or 33% of existing full-time workers, at a single site.

This bill would cut the federal applicability threshold in half, applying the state version of WARN to employers of 50 or more.  If adopted, we project that this bill would impose notification requirements and regulatory restrictions on more than 13,000 additional New York State small businesses who have between 50 and 100 employees.

This bill would also extend that notification period to 90 days, and as a result, prohibit the layoffs for that period of time, with limited exceptions.

Layoffs are not a frivolous matter.  The decision to make significant layoffs is usually in context of efforts to survive a significant economic or market downturn.  This legislation would impose restrictions on a small business' ability to respond to changing market conditions or changing financial conditions of the firm.  By delaying such responses by ninety days, these restrictions could place the entire business, and the business' entire workforce, at increased jeopardy.

Finally, while the exceptions to the notice provision in this bill generally mirror those at the federal level, these exceptions will be subject to new, state-level interpretation, again raising questions of inconsistent treatment of in-state and out-of-state businesses.

In summary, we share the legislature's concern over the consequence of major job reductions.  However, we believe the legislature should focus more on fundamental anti-competitiveness factors affecting New York State business, rather than imposing additional, incrementally more stringent regulatory requirements on the state's private sector.

For these reasons, The Business Council opposes adoption of S.8212/A.10847.