Exide complied with notification law on layoffs, state official says

Rain Smith • Apr 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Paper says Exide violated federal law requiring 60-day layoff notice

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Contrary to reports from other Tri-Cities media sources, Exide complied with “everything under the letter of the law” in notifying employees and the state of layoffs at its Bristol plant.

Jeff Hentschel, communication director for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, told the Times-News that Exide did not violate the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) with Wednesday’s announcement.

“We were told initially that 567 employees were laid off yesterday, which was not the case,” Hentschel said. “They had an employee meeting yesterday, a few people were laid off, but actually most of the people affected will be working through April and paid through May. They are actually in compliance.”

The WARN Act requires employers to provide 60 days notice of mass layoffs to both its employees and the state. While 567 of Exide’s 817 hourly employees will ultimately be affected by Wednesday’s announcement — the same day Exide notified the state — the mass majority of those laid off will receive payments through the end of May.

Exide officials have not responded to requests for the exact number of employees let go on Wednesday. But Hentschel assures they are in compliance, as the end of May is exactly 60 days from Wednesday’s announcement.

“In this case, Exide has actually done really well,” he said.

“It seems their intent is genuine to follow the rules and minimize the impact on their employees.”

Hentschel said the state’s Rapid Response Team plans on having a meeting with employees in April, but a date has not been set.

The team works with employees to inform them of services the state offers including unemployment insurance, job search and placement assistance, labor market and in-demand occupation information, testing and assessment, resume preparation and interviewing skills workshops, and classroom and occupational skills training if deemed necessary.

Employees will also be informed about the Tennessee Career Center, which facilitates those services and provides access to computers, fax and copiers to assist in job searches.

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