2020 WILL NOT BE A GOOD YEAR

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I wrote the other day of the state’s refusal to provide information, individually on in aggregate, on any notices it had received that are required when large employers lay off 50 or more workers.

However, the individual federal WARN Act notices can be revealed by local officials and Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde has responded to my request to receive copies of any he’s received.

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Hyde has gotten his first — a notice from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau that it will temporarily furlough 163 full- and part-time employees effective Monday because of the devastating impact of coronavirus on the visitors’ business in Little Rock. The WARN Act, passed in 1988, requires 60 days advance notice to employees. It doesn’t generally cover governments and the requirement is waived for, among others, natural disasters.

The LRCBV notice said it didn’t believe it was covered by the WARN Act but was voluntarily complying.

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The notice, which lists every job covered, said in part:

The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (“LRCVB”) has made the decision to furlough certain full-time and part-time employees. The furloughs are expected to be temporary – less than six months. The reason for the furloughs is the unforeseeable business circumstances related to a) the recent mass cancellations of events at LRCVB facilities and b) significant financial issues, including but not limited to immediate, anticipated decreases in A&P tax revenue from lodging and prepared food taxes due to pandemic-related/government-ordered closures, limitations and cancellations.

These furloughs are, of course, only the tip of an iceberg of job losses in the hotels, restaurants and bars from which LRCVB derives its revenue. In this one notice are 54 full-time employees, from parking deck cashiers to administrators.