Sign up for Email Alerts Make a Donation

Obama: Discrimination against jobless "makes absolutely no sense."



Aug. 30, 2011

Contact: David Elliot, USAction
202.263.4567, 202-607-7036 (cell)

Washington, D.C. – Last month, USAction launched an online petition campaign aimed at companies that refuse to consider hiring unemployed workers, a perverse form of discrimination in today’s economy.
Today, President Obama endorsed legislation to stop the discrimination. In an appearance on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, President Obama was asked about long-term unemployment and businesses that tell applicants, “If you’re unemployed, we don’t want to hear from you.”
Obama noted that the long-term unemployed have a tougher time landing jobs and said that a stronger overall economy would make employers less choosy. “But we have seen instances in which employers are explicitly saying we don’t want to take a look at folks who’ve been unemployed,” Obama said. “Well, that makes absolutely no sense, and I know there’s legislation that I’m supportive of that says you cannot discriminate against folks because they’ve been unemployed, particularly when you’ve seen so many folks who, through no fault of their own, ended up being laid off because of the difficulty of this recession.”
Alan Charney, USAction director of strategy and policy, welcomed the President’s remarks. “Since USAction launched its campaign to end discrimination against the unemployed, hundreds of thousands of Americans have demanded that this outrageous practice end,” he said. “New Jersey already has passed a law banning hiring discrimination and a similar bill was just introduced last week in Ohio, after the launch of USAction’s campaign. In addition, bills to end this insidious form of discrimination are pending in both chambers of Congress. Ending hiring discrimination won’t end unemployment – only robust legislation to create jobs now can significantly bring down unemployment. But this is a step in the direction of what is right and moral.”
Almost 70,000 people have signed a USAction petition to end hiring discrimination against the unemployed. Since USAction launched its campaign, important progressive allies like and have launched similar petition drives. All told, the groups have collected more than 218,000 signatures.
This week, USAction members across the country are attending congressional town hall meetings and organizing other events to shed light on the plight of the unemployed. USAction members are sharing with members of Congress stories collected at USAction’s new web site, .
The events are all part of USAction’s Good Jobs for Everyone in America national campaign. The three-pronged campaign calls for an end to hiring discrimination against the unemployed, extension of federal unemployment assistance and passage of robust jobs legislation, such as Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, which would create two million jobs in two years.
“The question we are asking members of Congress across the country is, where are the jobs?” said Charney. “The best way to cut the deficit is to get everyone back to work, not to pick the pockets of the middle class and low-income families. If millionaires and billionaires paid their fair share, we’d have plenty of money to get millions of people back to work and to make big cuts in the deficit.”
USAction is a federation of 22 state affiliates that organize for a more just America. With our state partners, we build broad coalitions to win progressive campaigns that enrich people’s lives.