White House Summit For ‘New Generation’ of Workers

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez announced this week that the White House will hold a “Summit on Worker Voice” on October 7 to “energize a new generation of Americans to come together and recognize the potential power of their voice at work.”

That’s great but … what about the “older generation” of  American workers?

The Obama administration is currently engaging in the most outrageous assault on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 since  2009. That’s the year that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services that made it far more difficult to win a lawsuit alleging age discrimination than discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin and color.

Obama signed an executive order  in 2010 that permits federal agencies to discriminate against older workers.

More recently, Perez endorsed  the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative,  in which America’s leading corporations (Walmart, Starbucks, Microsoft, etc.) have announced plans to discriminate against older workers and hire ” youth”  aged 16 – 24 for tens of thousands of part-time and full-time jobs.  Neither Perez nor Starbucks, the main organizer of the initiative, have explained what legal justification exists for violating the plain the plain language of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.  Good intentions cannot justify violating federal discrimination laws.

Reach for American Dream

Perez applauds early labor advocates  for the eight-hour work day and the weekend, noting these benefits were not inevitable but were “demanded by the working people of this nation … who wanted their chance to reach for the American dream.”

How can Perez and Obama justify making it more difficult for older workers to ‘reach for the American dream’?

In my book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I show that older workers are weeded out of the workplace through systemic age discrimination, whereupon they face blatant and epidemic age discrimination in hiring. Millions of older workers have been forced to spend down their savings, work in part-time or temp jobs and, finally, to retire as soon as they can, resulting in at least a 25% decrease in Social Security benefits for the rest of their lives.

According to Perez,  the Summit “will bring together workers, employers, unions, organizers, and other advocates and experts; will highlight the value of collective bargaining; examine challenges facing workers trying to organize in the 21st century, bring attention to new, innovative ways that workers are coming together to have a voice in their workplaces; and engage employers who are collaborating with their workers to create meaningful partnerships that are good for workers and businesses.”

The Obama administration recently concluded a White House Conference on Aging , which completely ignored calls to address the problem of age discrimination in employment.

 

Comments

  1. Pam Kelly says:

    I have a 27 year career as a Federal employee and am 55 years of age. Two and a half years ago, my Agency intentionally made my work conditions intolerable in an effort to push me out the door. While I also have some health/disability issues, I had a reasonable accommodation and was getting along well in my job. I have an advanced college degree, and much of my work involved research and writing. They successfully pushed me out the door insofar as I filed an EEOC case, used up my remaining leave, FMLA, etc. I have been living on savings and hardship TSP withdrawals as my EEOC case slowly proceeds. Whether it be age and/or disability discrimination, the management trend of purposely making a Federal employees’ work conditions intolerable in an effort to push them out the door is all the rage right now. It is an effective way for abusive managers, cronies and Agency heads to get rid of a Federal employee, regardless of the reason, and at the same time, evade many of the civil service protections available to the Federal employee. While the Federal employee can still pursue legal options, the cost and time involved in doing so is virtually prohibitive, and the abusive managers and Agency heads very well know this. Thus, the odds are high they will never be held accountable in any way for their abusive conduct. The bottom line is this really is going on and needs to be publicly addressed and discussed. At 55 with health issues and a successful 27 year Federal career up to this point, forced retirement is certainly not something I am prepared for, and the truth is very few options are realistically available.

  2. Ginny Hillhouse says:

    Absolutely, Pat. Beautifully said.

  3. I’m 55 and been looking for work for 2+ years after a blatantly unjust termination to which my union failed to respond in any useful way, despite my having been very active in the union. I can’t figure out why the unions aren’t all over this age discrimination thing – it trashes seniority rights. Maybe they’re courting the next generation members too.

    I think we should consider ourselves the “new generation” of unemployed older workers / targets of socially-acceptable government-sponsored discrimination and flood Secretary Perez’s “Summit on Worker Voice” site with our stories, thoughts, protests…

  4. I’m very upset about these loop holes and something needs to be done immediately as we are going to lose everything we have ever worked for. it’s like they are already redistributing our homes as most older folks don’t have children at home. but we still do. first time over our 27 years together we can’t get up work harder and fix the issues and we are letting our friends down. five children and we paid for them all. and we are lost. I can’t believe this. we were doing so well just 4 years ago. my husband will be 55 in a month. I think he’s breaking out in shingles. so I was thinking of a lawsuit against the office that were so reckless they Allowed or engineered these loopholes, but they may have to be accountable as I’m not sure. I had read there was a lawsuit against such short statutes of limitations on suits against inequality in education. justice has been eradicated. we are now living in the age of keel your heads down and your mouths shut. I struggle with that. I’m. person that needs to have a reachable agenda to improve our family. what’s the agenda now? the healthy ones are so difficult to reach and as there’s no moral boundaries it’s going to be more difficult supporting each other. 50 time to head to gas chamber. I don’t even feel old. I have plans to do more living but there’s this ball and chain on my leg. come on lawyers man up find us an angle to file lawsuits so we can avoid a further back slide. I often do not see age discrimination listed along with other types of discrimination. snap out of it. look around.

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