The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, otherwise known as WARN, is a US Labor Law that protects employees, their families, and their communities by mandating that businesses with 100 employees or more provide a 60-day notice that a mass layoff, downsizing, or relocation is going to occur. Although layoffs are tough on both the employees and their local economies, requiring 60 days notice gives the local workforce board ample time to assemble a Rapid Response.
When Arauco, a sustainable forest product manufacturer in Moncure, issued a WARN Notice with the state of North Carolina alerting them of their plan to downsize, the Business Services Coordinator at the Triangle South Workforce Development Board (TSWDB), Mike Peluso, assembled a Rapid Response team to develop a transitional plan of action for the employees being laid off.
Rapid Response teams are responsible for:
- Developing a transitional plan of action best suited to the workers of the affected business; distributing information on public services for job seekers.
- Developing a plan to access funds and services for workers, including Trade Adjustment Assistance and Pell grants.
- Sharing experiences from handling previous closures and layoff events.
- Providing convenient on-site services to ease the transition for workers.
- Offering specialized assistance, such as job fairs, financial planning workshops, and interest/aptitude assessments or other specialized services.
After visiting with the employer, Mike began working in conjunction with the Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) Business Outreach team and the NCWorks Career Center of Chatham County, to pool together representatives of local resources, training opportunities, and other local employers to meet with the affected employees of Arauco and share their service offerings.
“Although Rapid Responses for a large workforce downsizing is never an event that is desired, the TSWDB uses these events to provide the highest possible services to members of the workforce who are at an especially challenging time,” stated Mr. Peluso.
Agencies that attended and provided information on their service offerings included: Central Piedmont Community Action, Chatham County Department of Social Services, CCCC, North Carolina Housing Finance – Foreclosure Prevention Outreach, Moncure Community Health Center, Sanford Job Seekers, and the Heavy Equipment College of North Carolina. Employers in attendance included Boise Cascade, Pallet One, Express, Kelly Services, and Accentuate. Arauco helped encourage employee attendance to the Rapid Response by providing both breakfast and lunch to all attendees. As a result of everyone’s efforts, over 70% of the workers laid off returned to attend the Rapid Response.
“An event like the Arauco downsizing was uniquely successful in building hope with the affected workers because the company worked closely with the TSWDB and it’s partners to maximize the options available to its former employees,” stated Mike Peluso. “It’s this type of partnership that can turn an unfortunate circumstance into an event filled with hope and opportunities!”
To learn more about WARN Notices and Rapid Response initiatives, please visit https://www.nccommerce.com/workforce/businesses/rapid-response.