FOLLOW-UP : Kline, Walz take different approaches to Jobs

Reader Note : This is a follow-up commentary to a previous commentary about how the two approached the jobs issue (here’s the link).

Oh, it was quite a show that John Kline (R-MN-02) put on …. err, is still putting on … the curtain may have come down, but the spinning has now begun.

Mr. Kline’s website describes the event as follows :

Nearly 750 Minnesotans attended Congressman John Kline’s career and jobs fair Monday at Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights. Kline’s jobs fair included more than 60 private-sector employers, service organizations, and educational institutions – more than 40 of which offered current job openings.

WOW … 750 … err “nearly 750” … when Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) had his Jobs Fair, the media reported that the crowd exceeded 2,000 and one account had it at 4,000.

What would cause this … maybe it was the lack of publicity … when the message is simply to have his press releases reprinted in local papers as was done by the JordanNews. So it was that the reporting was also done by publishing Mr. Kline’s press release word-for-word by HometownSource (ECM Publishers). No reporting by the Star-Tribune or Pioneer Press.
Spin works … when the media ignores the event.

TruthSurfer described the event a little differently :

It had good attendance (lots of out-of-work folks) but as the guys in suits said on their way out, all the positions were lower paying entry jobs so they dressed up for nothing. The jobs offered through job fairs need to have sustainable wages with benefits…most of those at Kline’s sponsored fair didn’t and were designed toward entry level administration or manufacturing positions…not higher paying positions like engineers or programmers.
I also don’t think Rep. John Kline should be in the job fair market…but in the legislation market supporting the creation of living wage jobs. After all that’s why he was elected!

The number of businesses that actually had job openings was stated as “more than 40” … well 42 is more than 40 … but how many jobs did those 40 business want filled ? If it was more than 18 per company, than everyone could go home thinking that they had a chance for a follow-up interview … otherwise, it was a disappointment.

What may have been advertised as an event for job aspirants and business to meet, it may have been nothing more a counseling session … as there were “four break-out sessions: “Personalizing your career development strategy,” presented by Cindy Edwards of Find Your Fit; “Job search strategies” seminars presented by Stacy Klein and Harry Ostendorf of the Burnsville Workforce Center; and a “Getting motivated and excited about your job search” session presented by Bob Klatt.

Good advice is always appreciated, but that’s doesn’t put food on the table … and the message was one that has been said before.

Mr. Showman will grade his Jobs Fair a success … at least for him … it was a staged event (aka show) that Mr. Kline will utilize in campaign literature … spin works as Mr. Kline illustrates in his closing comment in the press release : “I remain committed to helping Minnesotans navigate through these uncertain and challenging economic times, and I look forward to hosting future career and jobs fairs.

Well, that’s a commitment .. hosting future fairs … wonderful.

How about Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN-01) … his focus has not changed either … Jobs and Veterans.
Congressman Walz was in Owatonna at Viracon to discuss his legislation H.R. 5400 – Veteran Employment Transition Act of 2010

Congressman Walz cited John Boozman, a Republican Congressman from Arkansas who happens to be running for the US Senate, for his support … [Side comment : for those of us voters that want cooperation rather than partisan ego-building, this is why Congressman Walz is so respected by his constituents.]

Congressman Walz’s legislation will make the “work opportunity tax credit” for recently discharged veterans permanent instead of letting it expire next year.

Currently, the federal government only offers tax credits to employers who hire economically disadvantaged veterans — those who are using food stamps or are collecting unemployment benefits. However, many veterans do not file for unemployment after leaving the armed forces, though each is entitled to do so. Therefore, Walz said, many of them miss out on a program that could offer a major selling point to potential employers.

If Walz’s legislation passes, the tax credit system would be extended to all veterans who have left the service in the last five years, whether they have filed for unemployment or not.
We’re talking about things we can do to incentivize companies that can hire veterans. One, it’s the right thing to do, but two is we know the skills of these workers having served in a disciplined environment,” Walz said. “These are great assets to our country, but they’re falling through the cracks.”

So, why Viracon ?
James Wendorff, Vice President of Human Resources at Viracon, an Owatonna-based producer of high-performance architectural glass, makes a point of hiring recent veterans and believes that all companies should make the same effort. “Viracon right now has about 1300 employees on our Owatonna campus, we have several hundred veterans. Make returning veterans know that they’re wanted, needed and welcomed, and it’s a win win for everyone, a win for the vet, and I think a win for the organization.

Congressman Walz knows the statistics for veterans are grim … our nation’s returning servicemen and women have battled to protect us but now face a new battle in today’s job market. This is especially acute among male veterans aged 18 to 24, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics released in 2010 that 21.6% of whom were unemployed.

Congressman Walz gets it … it’s not about putting on a show … but working with employers and jobseekers.
THANKS to Congressman Walz and Viracon for supporting out troops.
YES, it can be a Win Win.

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