Making good on predictions issued earlier this year, House of Raeford Farms has given notice to the state Department of Commerce under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (aka the “WARN Act”) that it will be closing its slaughter plant and two support facilities in Raeford as early as July 13. The closures will result in the loss of 1,060 jobs in the small Hoke County community (population 4,600). Click here to read the letter sent by House of Raeford on May 10 as well as a May 13 memo from Commerce Assistant Secretary Roger Shackleford on the subject.
The purpose of the WARN Act is to protect workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide 60 days’ notice of covered plant closings and mass layoffs. It remains to be seen, however, just how much the Department will actually be able to do for the workers who lose their jobs — especially given the already existing hard times in the region surrounding the facilities (Hoke, of course, is already one of North Carolina’s poorer counties).
One thing we do know about the situation in Raeford is that unless state lawmakers change course on the implementation of their plan to limit state unemployment benefits, the workers in question will be entitled, at best, to comparatively meager benefits for a relatively short period of time — even if they have no luck finding new employment.
Yesterday, worker advocates held a press conference in Raleigh to shine a light on several simple steps that lawmakers can take to help workers as the state’s economy continues to struggle. Unfortunately, legislative leaders have given no indication that they intend to act on any of these measures. Thus, barring some unforeseen development, the main accomplishment of the WARN Act in this case may simply be to warn the soon-to-be-former House of Raeford employees that life is about to get a lot tougher and that the leaders of our state won’t be doing much about it.