From the “What On Earth Where They Thinking?” files: Union boss Rich Trumka, head of the powerful AFL-CIO, has taken the White House to task for the president’s support of a Walmart program to expedite hiring of military veterans, according to the Hill. Seriously.
You may recall that, in January, Walmart announced a hiring initiative to provide jobs (at least part-time) to any veteran who passed a basic background check. I wrote supportively of the program at the time.
It may not be a comprehensive and enduring answer to the problem of veterans’ unemployment, but it’s a start, and it’s driven entirely by private-sector initiative. To their credit, the Obama administration offered praise for Walmart’s effort.
Enter Trumka with his ham-handed critique of this well-meaning initiative. Why would a union leader go on record criticizing a veterans’ hiring initiative? Could it be that he has a personal axe to grind with Walmart because they haven’t caved to his every demand? Either way, we wondered if maybe something had been lost in translation, so we checked out Trumka’s full statement at the AFL-CIO website.
Here it is, in full. I wanted to include the full text in the event that the AFL-CIO comes to its senses and removes it from their site:
Walmart’s recent announcement of a plan to hire returning honorably discharged veterans is more about public relations than honoring our heroes. That this effort was valorized by President Obama and Vice President Biden reflects an acceptance of economic failure out of line with America’s history or future.
We owe it to our returning veterans to make sure they are treated as the heroes they are, rather than as symbols used to “greenwash” Walmart’s eroding brand. After facing enemies abroad, is an $8.81 an hour part-time job the best we can offer returning veterans?
Already, working families and our economy are struggling against an epidemic of low-paying, low-benefit, part-time work. Instead of legitimizing that trend, we need to treat the talents of our veterans and of all of America’s people—as a critical national resource.
We need businesses in this country to step up and make family-sustaining jobs available to returning veterans. Previous generations of heroes returned from overseas service to critical jobs in manufacturing, construction and public service, jobs that enabled veterans to help build the nation and support families. With the right policies, including those in President Obama and Vice President Biden’s American Jobs Act, we can live up to the standards of our past and empower our veterans for the future.
Sure, it’s good PR for Walmart. But more importantly, the program offers any veterans who are seeking jobs a chance to pick up work experience and skills that will lead to greater opportunities. In today’s tough economy, that’s something of real value. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Moreover, when Trumka is complaining about the “economic failure out of line with America’s history or future” — whatever that means — he should at least direct his anger at the policymakers in Washington who have been the architects of that economic failure.
With a $16.7 trillion national debt and endless government interventions into the economy, it’s government policy, not private-sector hiring, that’s to blame for the sorry state of today’s sluggish recovery. Trumka’s loony attack on Walmart for hiring veterans should be treated with the scorn and derision it deserves.