With congressional Republicans refusing to act and even blocking emergency jobless aid, President Barack Obama is trying to address long-term unemployment using the power of the executive. Unfortunately, the options without Congress are fairly limited. One of Obama’s new initiatives involves basically asking large corporations to please stop discriminating against unemployed people:
President Obama has persuaded some of the nation’s largest companies, including Walmart, Apple, General Motors and Ford, to revamp their hiring practices to avoid discriminating against applicants who have been out of work for a long stretch of time.Mr. Obama hosted a group of corporate chief executives at the White House on Friday to highlight those efforts and the use of presidential persuasion to help the jobless find work. In all, White House officials said, about 300 businesses have agreed to new hiring policies, including 21 of the nation’s 50 largest companies and 47 of the top 200.
If this helps people who’ve been unemployed for six months or more get hired, that will be wonderful. But workers shouldn’t have to rely on the boss to be nice and fair out of kindness.
Obama’s efforts in this area do go beyond asking corporations to improve their practices, to where he can affect government practices:
Presidential Memorandum to Make Sure the Federal Government Does the Same. The President will also lead by example and use his executive authority to issue a Presidential Memorandum to ensure the long-term unemployed receive a fair shot in the Federal hiring process. The Memorandum directs federal agencies to review their recruiting and hiring practices to determine whether these practices put long-term unemployed individuals at an undue disadvantage and report the results to the Office of Personnel Management. This process will help to make sure the unemployed or individuals who have faced financial difficulties (a common side-effect of long-term unemployment) are fairly considered for jobs.$150 Million for “Ready to Work” Partnerships to Support Innovative Public-Private Efforts to Help the Long-Term Unemployed Get a Fair Shot. Today, the President and Department of Labor are announcing $150 million in existing resources from the H-1B fund to support high performing partnerships between employers, non-profit organizations and America’s public workforce system that will help provide long-term unemployed individuals with the range of services, training, and access they need to fill middle and high-skill jobs.
It’s better than the nothing that Republicans in Congress would offer to help jobless Americans, but so much more is needed.
This article was originally printed on the Daily Kos on January 31, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is the labor editor at the Daily Kos.