Monday, June 13, 2011

What is Affirmative Action and How Can it Help the 99ers and the Chronically Unemployed?

An Affirmative Action plan is one that requires employers to hire X number of unemployed applicants for every Y number of employed applicants that it hires. I guess you would call it a quota....

Right now, there is a strong suspicion that unemployed workers are not being considered, much less hired, for many job vacancies (rather, many employers are looking to hire only people who are currently employed).

An Affirmative Action Plan would make it illegal for companies to engage in such selective hiring (if that is what they are doing). Going forward, employers would have to regularly report to the US Government that they were hiring at least X number of unemployed workers for every Y number of jobs.

Back in the 70s, Affirmative Action plans were used to insure equality when it came to things such as admission practices to universities. The term has a bad connotation because it seemed that a lot of times more qualified (white) applicants were being denied just so less qualified (black) applicants could be admitted so colleges could meet their quota. Even so, it was in part quite a successful plan.

In any event, requiring companies to hire a certain percentage of unemployed workers to meet a quota would not have the same type of stigma...

I read a lot of 99ers stuff, and many seem to be focusing on getting additional unemployment benefits. Indeed there has been a great deal of focus on House Bill 589, which proposes to get 99ers 13 more weeks of benefits.  But, I assume, the purpose of the bill is to give chronically unemployed Americans a shot at economic survival until they can find a job....Yet, if indeed employers are refusing to hire unemployed workers, then the bill is quite short-sighted and does nothing to address a much greater problem.

The other problem with HB 589, is that it kind of feeds right into the mentality of people who claim that unemployment is just another form of welfare. Not only that, but the chance of it passing (at the expense of millions) is remote.  99ers don't need or want government handouts - they want a job!

Besides, what good does it do to get another 3 months of welfare if one's long term goal of getting back to work is only being stifled by a longer period of unemployment.

If you ask 99ers if they would prefer 3 months of UC benefits versus a job paying them a decent wage, I think almost all would say the job. The concept of Affirmative Action appeals to those 99ers, I would think.

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