Published August 24, 2008
While Younstown Mayor Jay Williams is to be commended for protecting the interests of his residents, he should take a step back and ask himself this question: Why doesn't Wal-Mart want to commit to a 25 percent hiring standard for city residents in its new Liberty Township superstore?
Given that the standard was established 20 years ago by then Mayor Patrick J. Ungaro for Wal-Mart's Austintown store in return for city supplying drinking water, it is necessary to delve into the issue further. The fact of the matter is that Wal-Mart does have a large number of Youngstowners working in its stores in the Mahoning Valley, so why the reluctance to agree to Mayor Williams' demands?
Company officials say they want the flexibility to hire individuals who meet their criteria and that any job guarantees would go against their policies.
Rather than lock horns with the company, the mayor should ask Wal-Mart whether the work ethic of Youngstown residents who seek such jobs is acceptable. Indeed, Williams should ask the company to compare its employees from the city with those from other communities.
Why? Because if the individuals who are being hired are below par, then Youngstown city government should sponsor training programs that prepare residents, especially those out of high school, for the work place.
It's pointless demanding a 25 percent hiring standard when meeting it becomes a major challenge for the company.