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Fighting for jobs

State bill to help spouses find work

Rep. Christine Kilduff is the major sponsor of House Bill 2456, which would foster greater awareness of job opportunities for military spouses. Photo credit: The Suburban Times

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For military spouses looking for a job, the task might just get a bit easier.

Last week, the Washington House of Representatives passed House Bill 2456, a piece of legislation that fosters greater awareness of job opportunities for military spouses. Next, the bill will move on to the Senate.

"This is an issue of fairness," began the bill's major sponsor, Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, during a telephone conversation. "This legislation allows our state to take the lead in educating employers about the valuable skills and abilities of military spouses and goes a long way towards protecting the financial health of military families."

The bill easily passed the House.

"There was no opposition to the bill; support for the military is a bipartisan issue," added Kilduff.

The impetus behind Kilduff's efforts began when a Joint Base Lewis-McChord spouse contacted her and provided evidence that some employers will not hire military spouses. Kilduff researched the issue further and verified that some military spouses do experience employment discrimination when attempting to find employment at new locations.

The reason given for this phenomenon is that some employers will not consider hiring military spouses due to the perception that they will not last long on the job due to their possibly being transferred.

"The spouse I spoke with had sent some resumés to potential employers using a post office box number, and she sent some resumés to potential employers using her JBLM address," explained Kilduff. "Her efforts showed that when she used her JBLM address she received far fewer job interviews than when she used her post office box number."

Kilduff also said that military spouses want a fair and equal opportunity to be hired in order to supplement and protect their family's income.

HB 2456 speaks to that point.

It requires the Department of Commerce, the Employment Security Department, and the Department of Labor and Industries to consult local chambers of commerce, associate development organizations, and businesses to initiate a demonstration campaign to increase employment for spouses of military members on active-duty.

In addition, the bill directs the Commissioner of the Employment Security Department to confer with the Department of Labor on what regulatory and other actions can be taken to provide greater opportunities for those individuals to participate in the unemployment insurance program.

"This bill is the very least we can do to support our servicemembers and their families," said Kilduff.

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