Today is Labor Day. In August 2012, there was record unemployment and sky-high gas prices. As discussed in this blog in 2012, the unemployment numbers throughout the country mandate: increased public-private partnerships and decisive legislative action. These tangible actions are required to address the American jobs crisis. In response to the dismal unemployment figures, an open letter with almost two thousand (2,000) signatures was sent by the National Urban League to the President and Congress urging their support in the “War on Unemployment” in 2011.
Throughout calendar years 2011 and 2012, this blog focused primarily on recently introduced pieces of legislation and other activities undertaken to address the current economic crisis with a focus on addressing the high unemployment rate and the resulting record bankruptcies, foreclosures, growth in homelessness and food insecurity. I will continue to write on this topic until the necessary action is taken to address the crisis.
By the end of 2012, it has been projected that we may have as many as five million people across this nation who have completely exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits and remain unemployed. Many of these “99ers” are close to eroding their savings and assets and wonder how much longer they can hold on. With that said, we have seen entire families impacted by long term unemployment as young children lose growth opportunities, parents can no longer afford college for their children and college graduates have moved back home with their parents. Let’s take a look at a public private partnership and several pieces of legislation.
Public-Partnership Example: Platform to Employment
“Platform to Employment is a public-private partnership giving businesses a risk-free opportunity to evaluate and consider hiring 99ers during an 8 week work experience program. During the 8 weeks, wages are subsidized with private investment funds and workers are placed on the payroll of The WorkPlace. The work experience program becomes an eight-week try out where 99ers can demonstrate they have skills, ability and drive to compete in the global marketplace.”
“P2E begins with a preparatory program designed to address the social, emotional and skill deficiencies caused by long term employment. A core element of this solution is a support system focusing on lasting performance improvements for participants. P2E incorporates a proven curriculum of self-assessment, managing change, effective communication and successful job search strategies. Multi-media tools reinforce instructor led programs and cohort learning.”
“During the preparatory program 99ers take action and fully realize their personal and professional potential. They develop new strategies for solving problems and create a positive change in themselves.”
“Three tiers of critical assistance
Tier One – Job Readiness
Coaching, workshops and hands-on training to hone necessary job skills.
Tier Two – Emotional Readiness
Counseling and behavioral health services to manage stress and build confidence.
Tier Three – 8 Week Work Experience”
The WorkPlace subsidizes a worker’s first eight weeks on the job. Employers offer a critical opportunity, hope, and a chance to evaluate a new population of job-ready applicants.
By eliminating employer risk during the hiring process, we break down a significant structural barrier that 99ers face when seeking employment.
Below are several pieces of recent legislation which were introduced to address the unemployment crisis:
Promoting Partnerships to Transform Opportunities Act (H.R. 2611)
The Promoting Partnerships to Transform Opportunities Act (H.R. 2611) is one such piece of legislation. In response to record employment, the Promoting Partnerships to Transform Opportunities Act (H.R. 2611) was introduced on July 21, 2011, by US Representative Raul Grijalva (S-AZ7). This piece of legislation would “…amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to prepare people with multiple barriers to employment to enter the workforce by providing such people with support services, job training, and education, and for other purposes. This new piece of legislation, H.R. 2611, has four (4) cosponsors. It is in the first step of the legislative process.
In 2011, another piece of legislation was introduced to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to permit the establishment of Job Corps centers in the territories of the United States. On June 24, 2011, H.R. 2935 was introduced by Delegate Gregorio Sablan (D-MP) to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. H.R. 2935 has 26 cosponsors. It is also in the first step of the legislative process.
Discrimination Against the Long-Term Unemployed ?
Is discrimination against the unemployed partly responsible for the nation’s high unemployment? Some assert that there is convincing evidence that employers are discriminating against the unemployed. In other words, when reviewing applicants some employers are only electing to interview candidates for vacant positions that are currently employed.
Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 (2501)
In response to this observed phenomena, Democratic members of congress introduced legislation to prevent discrimination against unemployed workers. Representatives Rosa DeLauro’s of Connecticut and Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia introduced the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 (2501), which would prohibit employers and employment agencies from discriminating against unemployed job-seekers by refusing to consider them for employment. According to Representatives Rosa DeLauro’s press release—“In today’s tough economy, more than 6 million Americans have been out of work for more than six months. But companies across the country have begun to require current employment to be considered for available positions, and these discriminatory practices are eliminating employment opportunities.
The Fair Employment Opportunity Act will prevent employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or offer employment to someone who is unemployed, or including language in any job advertisements or postings that states unemployed individuals are not qualified. A recent survey, conducted by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), of four of the top job search websites, CareerBuilder.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com, and CraigsList.com, found over one hundred and fifty (150) job advertisements that specified applicants must be currently employed. And the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows that there are 4.7 unemployed workers for every one (1) job opening.” The legislation introduced by US Representatives Rosa DeLauro’s of Connecticut and Hank Johnson of Georgia , if passed by the House and Senate, would apply to employers with over fifteen (15) employees and would provide protection to job applicants who are discriminated against because they are unemployed.
Key provisions of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 include but are not limited to: (a) Employers – It shall be an unlawful practice for an employer to–
1. Refuse to consider for employment or refuse to offer employment to an individual because of the individual’s status as unemployed;
2. Publish in print, on the Internet, or in any other medium, an advertisement or announcement for any job that includes—
– any provision stating or indicating that an person’s status as unemployed disqualifies the individual for a job; and
– any provision stating or indicating that an employer will not consider an applicant for employment based on that individual’s status as unemployed; and
3. Direct or request that an employment agency take an individual’s status as unemployed into account in screening or referring applicants for employment.
Representatives Rosa DeLauro’s press release aptly states that, “In a tough job market, where workers are competing against tens and sometimes hundreds of others for every available job opening, it is unjust for employers to discriminate against those who are unemployed. We have seen ample evidence that unemployed individuals are increasingly falling prey to discriminatory practices reducing their opportunities to be considered for a job. The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 would prohibit employers and employment agencies from discriminating against unemployed job-seekers, and ensure that all Americans have the same opportunities for employment.
Discrimination against the unemployed – especially the long-term unemployed – in job advertisements and hiring practices flies in the face of what we stand for as a nation: Equal opportunity for all,” said Rep. Johnson. The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 will help us level the playing field and get people back to work.”
Like most Americans, some members of congress assert that, “It is time for action on the most important issue of our time—economic opportunity through jobs! Every American deserves the right to be gainfully employed or own a successful business”—said U.S. Representative Cleaver. I agree. It’s time to move on from manufactured crises and focus on jobs.” If you agree with me,
Lamont Cranston reminds us that,” History will judge us either for our activism or apathy. The choice is ours, but the impact of our decision is ultimately on our children.” If the pressing social issues covered in these posts are important to you, please contact your elected officials in Washington, DC. For further information on these pieces of legislation, please visit http://www.govtrack.us. www.opencongress.org.
Source(s): The Work Place website. Representatives Rosa DeLauro website, HR 2501, Representative Johnson website, and opencongress.org. National Urban League. US Rep. Cleaver’s Facebook page. http://www.govtrack.us. http://www.opencongress.org Lamont Cranston. http://www.grio.com. http://www.thecincinnatiherald.com. http://www.theblackamerica.com. AFL-CIO.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art