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WARN Act Notices Defined and What they mean if received

Date: July 7, 2020

As we are all aware, the impact of COVID-19 has created perhaps the most disruptive financial crisis in the history of commercial aviation. Management has worked aggressively to manage the crisis and mitigate the impact on the company by cutting costs across all areas of the business, actively seeking and ultimately receiving government support while, at the same time, borrowing billions of dollars to maintain corporate liquidity levels to support our company.  All of these efforts are crucial to the company’s survival and have stalled the most severe impacts of this crisis on employees through additional voluntary programs.  

At the same time, senior management has clearly annunciated that on October 1st, it will be critically important to size the airline to passenger demand and to reshape the workforce of our airline to also meet that demand for travel. Regrettably, recent news indicates that the impact of COVID-19 continues to adversely impact any strides we are making in rebuilding the once robust schedule of our airline.

In recent internal communications addressing the extension of the VSP2 for frontline workers, there have been references to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act or “WARN Notices”.  Under certain circumstances these notices can be legally required to be provided to employees before an employer can implement certain significant reductions in force or involuntary furlough.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) is a federal statute that provides protection to workers and their families by requiring employers to provide 60 days’ notice in advance of certain involuntary actions, including potential plant closings and mass layoffs if management has a reasonable expectation that they may be affected by an employment loss in certain locations based on information available at the time.  

The way potentially affected employees receive their message is different depending on where they work. Potentially impacted frontline employees based in California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York will receive written notification should the company trigger WARN at their specific work location due to their state statutes.  The WARN Notice for employees in other states will be provided, in writing, to the unions representing each employee group.

It is very important that everyone understands that simply because you received a WARN notice, it does not mean that your job has been eliminated.  What it does mean is that the company has a reasonable expectation that your job may be affected by an involuntary furlough based on the information available at the time the WARN notice is issued.

Participation of employees in voluntary programs will help to reduce the number of involuntary furloughs.  Unionized employees who will be furloughed will be notified consistent with the terms of the Contract under which they work.

For those individuals who have elected to participate in the VSP2 and who have completed the process to participate in the VSP, you should be confident in your decision and understand that your decision takes precedence over the WARN notice which does not apply to you.

If you have additional questions about a WARN Notice, we strongly encourage you to seek accurate information from your Local Council.  Let’s continue to avoid rumor and speculation, avoid social media and make a commitment to yourself that you will obtain information from the official Union source – www.unitedafa.org.

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