Hugo Hinojosa loved being in the military. He served 22 years in the U.S. Army, with time in eight different duty stations. His service gave him the opportunity to get a degree, travel the world, see different places and forge close-knit friendships that he says will last a lifetime. When it came time for him to transition out of the military, he was open to ideas—and during a career skills program briefing at Fort Hood’s Copeland Center, a presentation from Heroes MAKE America captured his attention.
Endless opportunities: After a career spent moving around the globe, Hinojosa was hoping to stay in his home state of Texas for the long term. During the presentation from a representative of Heroes MAKE America, he was struck by the breadth of roles the manufacturing industry offered.
- “When they came out and told me about opportunities and other jobs in the surrounding area, I said, wow, this might be for me,” said Hinojosa. “With the certifications the program offered, you could work anywhere in the industry. I wasn’t limiting myself to a certain, specific job. I could work anywhere, you name it. The opportunities are endless.”
A unique experience: Hinojosa began his time in the program in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant that some elements had to be adjusted to fit the logistical reality. But participants still received plenty of engagement: classroom lessons were shifted to a virtual format, and students met with program managers two at a time for a few hours every week. While it required a fair amount of self-direction and motivation, Hinojosa said that the program supported him as he learned at his own pace.
A powerful network: Hinojosa found the networking aspect of the program to be especially valuable once he began looking for work.
- “Every time we would have potential employers in team meetings, I would search them on LinkedIn and connect with them,” said Hinojosa. “I said, I saw you today during class, I’d like to connect. I started building my own network from there.”
The right stuff: The work paid off. Hinojosa received several offers and ended up getting hired by WestRock Company through meetings that were set up by Heroes MAKE America. He began as a member of the company’s management trainee program and was quickly recruited to work as a business partner in the human resources department. He sees his new career as a natural extension of his time as a service member.
- “Everywhere I go, I’m a steward of the Army,” said Hinojosa. “I’m working in a place where the values are in line with what I was brought up with in the military—integrity, respect, accountability and excellence.”
Today, Hinojosa encourages other transitioning service members to see themselves in a manufacturing career—and most importantly, to recognize their own skills.
The last word: “Don’t sell yourself short,” said Hinojosa. “Believe in the skills the military has given you. You’ve been trained and given skills that will pay dividends out here in the manufacturing industry. And the work ethic that’s instilled from day one is going to show.”
Manufacturing businesses have long been proponents of equality in the workplace. As legislation to codify protections for LGBT individuals passes through the House of Representatives, the National Association of Manufacturers joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other members of the business community in advocating its passage, forging coalitions and providing congressional testimony.
Introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate in March, the Equality Act includes federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the existing framework of the Civil Rights Act, which already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color or sex. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that no person can face legal discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, setting a clear federal standard to enable individuals to succeed based on their abilities and qualifications to perform a job.
“Employers understand the importance of creating an environment in which the very best people can succeed based on merit,” Patrick Hedren, NAM vice president, labor, legal and regulatory policy, said. “At the same time, manufacturers know that discrimination in any form is antithetical to the values that we work to uphold every day: equality of opportunity, individual liberty, free enterprise and competitiveness.”
In March, more than 40 other industry associations rallied to support the Equality Act, providing an important boost for the groundbreaking legislation. In the weeks since, manufacturing representatives have testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and signed a coalition letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services calling for the Act’s passage. As Congress considers the way forward, manufacturers have made clear that they intend to advocate forcefully on behalf of the legislation and uphold their commitment to workers of every gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Equality Act creates a clear federal standard that matches the sentiments manufacturers already share: gender identity and sexual orientation have no impact on an employee’s abilities and discrimination is not welcome on the manufacturing floor,” Hedren said. “We look forward to working with Congress as this important legislation moves ahead.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the 2016 Persuader Rule:
Manufacturers have fought for this victory for many years in the courts, in Congress and with two administrations, using the full weight of our policy, government relations and legal teams, said Timmons. The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action was able to halt the rule in court in 2016.And in 2017, the Trump administration, as part of its broader regulatory relief agenda, thankfully began the process of unwinding the rule. This overreaching rule threatened to impose serious burdens on manufacturers and upend employee–employer communications. Now manufacturers are relieved that this threat to workplace communications is finally and officially off the books. Commonsense steps like this to rein in onerous regulations are a major reason why manufacturers are reporting record-high business optimism.
The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) is the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts and engages in a range of activities, including direct party litigation and operating a robust amicus program, as well as educating manufacturers about emerging legal trends. The MCLA is led by NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly and NAM Vice President of Litigation and Deputy General Counsel Peter Tolsdorf. More information on the MCLA can be found here.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.