New York City—Walmart drew positive press and White House praise this morning for pledging to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years. The plan, first reported by the The New York Times, was formally announced by Walmart US President Bill Simon in a keynote address at a National Retail Federation conference. It was panned by labor activists, dozens of whom marched through the Jacob Javits convention center lobby following Simon’s speech.
“Sadly,” Simon told the NRF gathering, “too many of those who fought for us abroad now find themselves fighting for a job when they get home.” He called veterans “leaders with discipline” and “a purpose instilled in them by their military training. We need that in our business.” Simon urged the assembled retailers to followed Walmart’s example: “We could be the ones who step up for our heroes just as they stood for us.”