Sunday, July 3, 2011

Unemployed 2+ Years - Do Politicians Really Care?

Both Photos Credit - Flickr Common

Napa, California resident Bill Bianco’s morning routine is probably fairly similar to many Americans. Upon waking every morning, Bill jumps in the shower and takes his vitamins. He then researches and applies for “each and every possible job.”

Bill applies on job sites like Monster.com, TheLadders.com, and Yahoo.com. He researches local publications online and in print for job openings. He makes phone calls and emails his resume. He utilizes his VP/General Manager level core competencies daily in his job search - communication, management, organization, and marketing.

What Bill does next is probably not a part of the average American’s daily routine. From December 2, 2008 to today, Bill’s morning work also includes faxing a letter to California’s two U.S. Senators Feinstein and Boxer and now former House Speaker Pelosi.

Bianco’s letter addresses the Washington mindset in bailing out Wall Street and bankers to keep them solvent while ignoring the recession’s negative impact on small businesses. He explains the plight of small business owners trying desperately to keep from closing their companies that have prospered for decades prior to 2008.

Bill details exactly what happened to the company he help build for the last ten years. He notes that while companies considered “too big to fail” were saved with taxpayer’s money, small companies that paid these taxes were “wiped off the map”. He implores Washington to consider that their economic policies are not helping small companies that are failing though no fault of their own but simply because of the economy.

Bianco explicates how government policy and banks affected small business when business credit availability was pulled and disappeared at the beginning of the economic downturn in 2008 right after banks were bailed out. He recounts the death spiral of his company and the American horse breeding and sports industry.

He notes the millions and billions given in the stimulus package did not go to small business loans that could have bridged small companies through the recession crisis. This could have saved American small business closings and the unemployment rate rising. He specifically asks what options are available for failing small businesses and for constructive input from Feinstein, Boxer, and Pelosi for private sector companies.

Bill also describes the effect on business owners and company management whom are now unemployed due to the huge amount of small business closings in the last two years. Most of these former owners and managers are over 45. They now face financial devastation along with age discrimination in seeking to rebuild their lives starting with new employment. Bianco uses his personal situation as a detailed example.

Senator Feinstein did respond on May 28, 2009, approximately six months after Bill began his daily fax of his letter. Feinstein’s response appeared to be a form letter sent to those requesting information on government grants referencing a book on grants that came separately approximately three months later by mail on September 3, 2009.

Senator Boxer and Former Speaker Pelosi have not responded. Even though it has been over two years of daily faxing his letter to them with no response, Bianco continues to try to engage them in what he sees as the realities of the non-political and unconnected class of small business and people. He remains positive and optimistic, yet he is also realistic against what he knows are David and Goliath odds.

Who is William Bianco III? He is a man with a proven record of management success with core competencies in public relations, marketing, customer service, financial management, strategic planning, and process development. He has fourteen years experience in managing business and personnel from retail to professional sports. He excels at business development from conception to implementation. Bill holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics.

In the words of CPA Carter E. Wicks, one of Bill’s many professional references: “I had the pleasure of working with William A. Bianco III (Bill) for several years at Sunset Stables. In a matter of a few years, he managed to transform Sunset Stables from a very small operation to a viable Thoroughbred Horse Racing and Breeding concern. It was impressive to see him take his previous business experience and apply it to an industry new to him. I feel that his passion for both horses and the sport drove him to success. His thorough research led Sunset to make many wise and profitable decisions regarding its’ breeding strategy.”

Wicks further notes, “Unfortunately, the economic downturn in 2008 hit the Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Industries very hard. This combined with other factors beyond Bill’s control forced Sunset to drastically downsize. The downturn of Sunset’s fortunes was in no way reflective of the hard work and passion that Bill gave to the Stable.”

At 49, Bill has been looking for new employment for almost two years. He never dreamed he would be in this situation. His friends and family can not believe he is in this position either, and he finds those that are not facing unemployment over 45 do not understand it. Many now avoid him, because they find his situation awkward for them.

Bianco is willing to relocate and has researched and applied for every employment option available. Like many professionals out of work over 45, he has only received one interview. It was with Yellow Cab. Even with a perfect driving record, they did not call him back, for they only wanted to hire experienced drivers.

It’s very tough to find a job today. Bill is again realistic, and he is not sure which is worse in his situation - employers not wanting to interview the unemployed or candidates over 40 for open positions. Recruiters have told him, off the record of course, they know of very few companies that will interview, let alone hire, someone unemployed at his age. Bill believes he just hasn’t knocked on the right door yet.

At 43%, almost half of the long-term unemployed are 45-years and older. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. workforce’s demographics are changing with more than 50% of the workforce turning 40 years and older in 2000. It is illegal, yet it is common knowledge one of the chief reasons older workers are not hired is they are perceived as increasing health care costs to a company. Age discrimination is very hard to prove in reality.

The EEOC’s government facts include “The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA’s protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.”

“The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.”

Adding to Bill Bianco's employment search obstacles, and millions of Americans like him, is the hiring bias well described in a May 23, 2011 Time.com case study article titled “Jobless Discrimination? When Firms Won’t Even Consider Hiring Anyone Unemployed.” The article contains:

“When Sony Ericsson needed new workers after it relocated its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta last year, its recruiters told one particular group of applicants not to bother. "No unemployed candidates will be considered at all," one online job listing said.”

“The cell-phone giant later said the listing, which produced a media uproar, had been a mistake. But other companies continue to refuse to even consider the unemployed for jobs — a harsh catch-22 at a time when long-term joblessness is at its highest level in decades.”

“Refusing to hire people on the basis of race, religion, age or disability — among other categories — is illegal. But companies that turn away jobless people as a group are generally not breaking the law — at least for now.”
In the meantime, Bill Bianco provides consulting services to his last employer and the sports industry without pay to remain connected to the work environment. He has volunteered for Toys for Tots, Goodwill, and The Salvation Army.

Bill and his son also collect recycling items and give them to people waiting in line at the Napa recycling center. He wants to continue the charitable giving he and his family have done for years. For now, this is a way he can be charitable to others costing him only his time to collect items to give them.

Bianco has downsized. He has sold what personal belongings he could. He has almost gone through his savings. He has not applied for any government assistance programs. This is not out of ego or pride. Bill “believes government handouts are not the solution and not a way of life he will accept.”

Even under financial pressure, Bill wants to set a good example for his nineteen year old son whom is attending college part time and also looking for employment. He wants to be “a strong role model for his son on weathering life’s ups and downs with personal responsibility.” He believes “self reliance is one of the strengths of America’s prosperity ultimately.”

Bill explains the daily letter fax, “As a citizen I send the letter, because I want the voice of small business to be heard on a real world and real life level by our politicians. They don’t have to live it personally, but they make the policies which can either help or hurt the environment in which the private sector can create jobs.”

Bianco ends our interview on an upbeat note, “My last position was as a Vice President and General Manager, but that was just a title. Managing and keeping things neat, organized, and running smoothly is what I did. A job that requires strong management, organizational, and research skills would be ideal. Of course, at this point, I would take any job offered to me.”

Should you sincerely like to talk to William Bianco III about an open position you have or are a recruiter willing to work with him, he can be contacted directly at wbiancoiii@hotmail.com. It’s not on his resume, but many would agree, Bill is persistent in a good way and has integrity.

On a wider scale, as a nation, let’s end employment myths and discrimination on the basis of age and someone being unemployed. Let’s all live up to a “This Could be My Mom or Dad 2011 Employment Challenge” of each employer hiring at least two people who are unemployed and make at least one of them over 45.

This challenge can make a big difference in ensuring those most affected by the recession do not get discounted and discarded in our society. It truly is time to remember, you will be over 45 and/or unemployed at some point in your life. When you are, how would you like to be treated?

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