The wrong way to greet our military veterans as they return to civilian life after defending the nation would be offering an $8.81 an hour part-time job with little to no benefits.
Walmart CEO Bill Simon said this morning at the National Retail Federation conference that starting Memorial Day, Walmart would offer honorably discharged veterans jobs. Simon pledges to hire 100,000 vets over the next five years. Right now, it's unclear if these Walmart jobs would be full-time or offer adequate benefits. While we need to get our nation's veterans back to work, as Catherine Ruetschlin writes on the Demos blog, low-wage, part-time work is not the answer.
These veterans can look forward to holding part-time jobs with no benefits, erratic scheduling and supplementing their low incomes with public assistance programs just to make ends meet. Underemploying veterans in bad jobs is not the answer to their unemployment problem, and it is the wrong example when it comes to putting our workforce back on track.
James Gilbert, director of the AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council, said:
Previous generations of veterans returned from service and started careers in manufacturing, construction and/or public service—they went from defending America to building America. The announcement by Walmart to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years should be applauded, but is in need of context. Will these jobs be ones with wages, benefits and workplace rights at a level that matches the skill set and dignity of service of these new hires? Will these be the types of jobs that afford brave service persons with the ability to own a home, raise a family and retire with dignity? Only time will tell.