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2004-09-21
Atlanta, GA. Home Depot Uses Federal Subsidies to Recruit Workers.

Home Depot over the past several years has hired the elderly and veterans to feed its expanding empire, as it displaces smaller competitors, while getting high marks from U.S. government officials. Home Depot is "partnering" with the federal government to take advantage of taxpayer-subsidized work programs to locate and train its future workforce. Home Depot is expected to be joined by U.S. labor officials this week as it announces yet another government agreement that will allow it to hire 10,000 military veterans this year to staff its stores -- a patriotic theme in a nation at war. The world's largest home improvement chain did not say if it planned to give ex-military workers preference over laid off workers at smaller home improvement chains that go out of business. The involvement of Department of Labor officials is a public relations plus for Home Depot, which has been taking advantage of federal work programs since June of 2002, when the Department of Labor first announced a "partnership" with the private retailer. In 2004, Home Depot expanded that relationship by announcing an agreement with the AARP Foundation to hire older workers. This allows Home Depot to take advantage of the AARP Foundation's $75 million in federal Older American's Act job training and placement services to locate workers to fill Home Depot jobs. Basically, taxpayer funds are used to find, train and prepare workers to transition into Home Depot positions. Home Depot, in turn, opens more stores, which causes smaller retailers -- who are paying federal taxes which help pay for the Department of Labor programs -- to go out of business. "We are proud to establish a national hiring partnership with The Home Depot," said Bill Novelli, CEO of AARP. "Through AARP Foundation Senior Community Service Employment Program , we have been helping older adults develop job search skills and find permanent employment for 35 years. This partnership will provide Home Depot with access to a high performing, diverse contingent of potential associates that demonstrate a strong work ethic, maturity and leadership." According to AARP's press release, "mature job seekers" just visit their local AARP Foundation Employment Program Center, or a Department of Labor One Stop Career Center, to complete an employment application. AARP called their partnership with Home Depot "an integral part of the AARP Foundation....commitment to secure job placement and training for program participants. This is the first national hiring partnership established by the AARP Foundation." AARP said the partnership would help them "to better understand Home Depot's job opportunities, application procedures and work environment (to) make the most appropriate referrals to its participants to help them meet Home Depot's needs." AARP's Older American's Act tax dollars are used to give "low-income older workers...the job training and placement they need to re-join the workforce." In other words, federal funds save Home Depot advertising, recruiting, and some training costs to fill new and replacement positions at the company. It's a skillful use of federal resources to keep its stores stocked with employees. In 2004, at the AARP/Home Depot press conference, U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said, "The Department of Labor is pleased to play a role in this partnership...Home Depot has implemented a Web-based application process, which older workers can access through the Department of Labor’s nationwide network of 3,500 local One-Stop Career Centers. To date more than 12,000 workers have been hired through this ongoing effort. Today’s event marks a significant milestone: it is the first time a company has formed a partnership with the AARP Foundation.I hope there will be many more partnerships like this one to come."

What you can do: Home Depot has very effectively used Department of Labor programs to line up veterans and seniors to work in its stores. The federal taxpayer provides the programs that find, train and prepare workers to "stock" the Home Depot stores. The Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP) at one point, as the name implies, placed older workers in community agencies, like senior centers, meal sites, health care facilities, transportation programs, etc. But over the years, the Department of Labor has converted the program into a tax-subsidized placement program for private companies. The "Community Services" aspect of the program has been replaced by an increasing emphasis on recruting "unsubsidized placements" with private employers. In fact, SCSEP programs which fail to make sufficient private sector placements, can lose their funds. But the original intent to provide "community services" has evolved into a subsidized recruitment service for companies like Home Depot. The question remains: why does the federal government have to subsidize the recruitment process of the world's richest home improvement center, especially at the expense of smaller retailers? For Home Depot, it's a win-win situation: they get new recruits, they get the federal governnment's praise, and it makes for goodwill with the shopping public to be hiring vets and seniors. It lowers their corporate costs, boosts sales, and supplies them with a steady stream of part-time people.











 
 
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