Finding and keeping a job can be challenging for people with criminal records. These jobseekers face exclusionary business practices and logistical obstacles, which result in an unemployment rate for this population that is five times higher than the general US public. To minimize this inequality, The Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education partner of the NAM—has joined with Union Pacific to expand candidate pools and bring more outstanding individuals into the manufacturing industry.
A second chance: Union Pacific began working on the second chance initiative last year, and the results have already proven fruitful.
- In 2022, the company launched a pilot program with local community organizations in Houston to eliminate barriers to employment for the formerly incarcerated and helped ensure the long-term success of these second chance candidates.
- In its first three months, the program brought in nearly 100 new applications and created positive relationships and support systems.
The steps to success: The Union Pacific team discovered that three components were critical to helping candidates find jobs and succeed:
- First, companies interested in hiring such candidates must update their own hiring practices and rethink potential barriers for otherwise qualified candidates—whether that means adjusting onerous required credentials or background checks.
- Second, partnerships and strong relationships with local community partners can help ensure that these candidates have the support they need to be successful. Tools like the MI’s Community Partnership Scorecard helped Union Pacific find partners that fit well with their goals.
- Third, establishing pilot initiatives in high-demand markets can help a company learn about best practices that can be replicated elsewhere. Plus, sharing experiences with other employers can help additional companies find success.
Expanding the program: Union Pacific’s current focus involves bringing the Second Chance initiative to new markets across the country to replicate the pilot program results.
- “Everyone I speak with about our success in Houston wants to know how we can take this model and multiply,” said Union Pacific Talent Acquisition Manager Ken Kawamura.
Leaders in the field: With the success of this initiative, Union Pacific has become an industry leader in establishing inclusionary hiring practices and building community partnerships. The company hopes to help establish second chance programs throughout the country.
- The Manufacturing Institute has been a critical partner in this work, providing information and resources necessary to its success.
- “The MI is committed to supporting members in the pursuit of effective Second Chance initiatives,” said MI Vice President of Workforce Solutions Gardner Carrick. “Our goal is to leverage those learnings and strategies across the manufacturing industry to expand talent and opportunity in the sector.”
The last word: Union Pacific’s primary goal in pioneering this initiative is to build a more equitable workforce for all employees.
- “In our eyes, once you are a part of Union Pacific, you are no different than any other employee, regardless of your background,” said Senior Director of Talent Acquisition Dan Culbertson.
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.