President Obama will announce during his State of the Union address that he has secured pledges from some of the nation’s largest employers to not discriminate against the long-term unemployed when evaluating employment applications, according to a published report.
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett has secured the guarantees from companies including Xerox, AT&T, Lockheed Martin, Proctor & Gamble, Bank of America, Siemens AG, Dow Chemical and Deloitte, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The president is expected to tout the initiative at an event on Friday.
“We’re going to be bringing CEOs from across the country to also have a conversation about commitments they can make to start hiring the long-term unemployed — people who oftentimes have terrific skills, have a great work ethic, have wonderful experience, but because of the misfortune of having been laid off or lost their jobs during the depths of an extremely severe recession, have been out of work long enough that now we’re finding it’s very hard for them to just get in the door and make their case to an employer,” Obama said.
"We’re going to try to work with CEOs to make a pledge that we’re going to take a second look at these Americans who are very eager to get back to work and have the capacity to do so, but aren’t getting the kind of shot that they need," he added.
By soliciting the pledges, the White House hopes to show an example of the president using the power of his office to help those without work where Congress has refused to act. Lawmakers have been unable to move forward legislation extending long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans after the emergency program lapsed last month.
In recent weeks, Obama has touted other, similar public-private partnerships. At a conference at the White House with university presidents, Obama announced millions in new commitments to help low-income students access better schools. He also traveled to North Carolina to tout a manufacturing hub funded through a partnership between the federal government and private companies.
On Sunday, White House communications adviser Dan Pfeiffer said that the president would make clear he planned to use his executive authorities to work around Congress.
“I think the way we have to think about this year is we have a divided government," Pfeiffer said. "The Republican Congress is not going to rubber-stamp the president's agenda. The president is not going to sign the Republican Congress' agenda."
“When American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done, he will not wait for Congress," he added.