Washington Secrets

Walmart goes on Buy American, vet-hiring binge

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Retail giant Walmart, egged on by job-creating governors like South Carolina's Nikki Haley, has launched a huge Buy American effort, pledging to purchased $50 billion in new American-made goods over 10 years and also promising a job to any new and honorably discharged war veterans.

Walmart CEO Bill Simon announced the initiatives today in New York but the impact will be felt in Washington. Not only will the White House embrace his Buy American and veterans efforts, but Simon also pledged to help part-time workers win full-time jobs, a prerequisite to getting a piece of Obamacare.

On the Buy American front, Walmart and Sam's Club will buy an additional $50 billion in American products over the next 10 years. The focus will be sporting goods, apparel basics, storage products, games, and paper products. Simon said he worked with governors like Haley, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, on the plan. The company expects its effort to boost other Buy American efforts, potentially creating $500 billion in new purchases by 2023.

On the veterans front, he announced that starting Memorial Day, a job will be offered to "any honorably discharged veteran in his or her first 12 months off active duty." Said Simon, "Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make."

And on the part-time to full-time initiative, he said, "We will make sure part-time associates have full visibility into full-time job openings in their stores and nearby stores, and that they always have first shot at those jobs. We will also bring more transparency to our scheduling system so part-time workers can choose more hours for themselves."

He predicted the company will hire 100,000 over the next five years.

In a statement, Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said, "If Walmart's 'Made in America' announcement is real, it's a game changer."

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