Amalia Shoots … She Scores!

by Secretary Tom Perez on May 27, 2014 · 3 comments

Editor’s note: This was originally published on the Huffington Post. See the original article here.

On the first Friday of every month, the Labor Department announces new employment numbers that help set the tone for the conversation about our economy and where it’s headed.

But that’s not the only set of data on my mind. My older daughter, who will leave for college in a few months, just played her last high school varsity lacrosse game, and I kept the team statistics this season (Amalia had 15 goals and 14 assists, in case you were wondering).

Involvement in my kids’ sports teams is something I have made time for over the years. I’ve also been able to coach all three of them in baseball and basketball, something that has strengthened our bonds and given me indescribable joy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I lost my own father when I was 12, and I am the same age today that he was when he died suddenly of a heart attack. So when it comes to family time, I have a strong sense of the fierce urgency of now.

"The most important family value is time with your family"

But I’m lucky. I’ve had jobs that allow me the flexibility to achieve work-life balance, to be there when one of the kids sinks a jump shot or for the parent-teacher meetings. I can move tasks around. If I don’t get something done at the office at 4:30 in the afternoon, I can go back to it at 10:00 in the evening.

But if you work in retail or in hospitality or at a call center, or if you need to take a second job at night to make ends meet, you probably don’t have that option, and you can’t be there for your kids. Often, it’s not just about missing a game. It means you can’t help with homework. It means you can’t be involved enough to know when your kids are in trouble at school. Or it means if they get sick in the middle of the day, you have no way to pick them up.

I think our families deserve better. They shouldn’t have to choose between the family they love and the job they need. And it’s not just about being able to put food on the dinner table — it’s about being able to actually be at the dinner table as well. The most important family value of all is time with your family.

That’s why we’re convening the Summit on Working Families — to tackle issues like childcare, paid leave and equal pay that speak to the anxieties that keep people awake at night. These issues go to the heart of middle-class economic security. Addressing them is part of fully restoring America’s basic bargain — that if you work hard and take responsibility, you will have a chance to succeed.

We are way behind the rest of the world when it comes to progress on this front. Everything has changed in recent decades — the economy, technology, cultural attitudes, the demographics of the workforce, the role of women in society and the structure of the American family. It’s about time our laws caught up. We watch Modern Family on television, but we’re still living by Leave It To Beaver rules.

I’m proud to be Secretary of Labor. But I’m even prouder of two more important titles: dad and husband. I’ve been able to be all three. I want all working people, no matter what their jobs are, to be able to meet their obligations both at work and at home.

This post is part of a series produced by The White House in conjunction with its Working Families Summit, the goal of which is to help “create 21st-century workplaces that work for all Americans.” Today’s regional summit in San Francisco is part of a series of events across the country leading up to the main event on June 23, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Read here to learn more about the effort. 

Follow Secretary Perez on Twitter as @LaborSec.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Margie Ward May 28, 2014 at 9:25 am

Please don’t forget those of us who don’t have children, but play a very important role in the lives of others’ children and the elderly. Too often, accommodations are made in the workplace for those with children, but those who are struggling to be there for other family members or friends are overlooked.

2 Cynthia May 30, 2014 at 12:33 am

“Nobody in this country who works a full-time job should have to live in poverty,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in San Francisco on May 27. That’s wonderful news for small business owners. I am excited to learn that small business owners who cannot generate sufficient revenue to pay themselves a draw or payroll check (depending on organizational structure) will not have to live in poverty despite working 50,70, 70 hours a week in a battle with an economy created by policies set by our government officials, as well as the forces that occur from changes in our society culturally and while in transition to an information economy. Pray tell — how will you assist us so we do not have to live in poverty?

3 Rosie (Pachita) Leparulo May 30, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Tommy,
You have very eloquently stated what all American families need and want and ought to be able to access. Thank you for all that you do…..Tio Rafael and Tia Gracita are so very proud, as are we all.
Blessings,
Pachita

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