Day One

by Secretary Tom Perez on July 23, 2013 · 6 comments

Secretary Tom Perez

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez

Today is my first day as the secretary of labor, and I couldn’t be more eager to get down to work.

For 100 years, the Labor Department has been central to safeguarding and expanding the American dream for working families. As the first secretary of the department’s second century, I will focus every day on creating more opportunity for more people.

That means more opportunity for workers to acquire the skills they need to succeed; more opportunity to earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work; more opportunity for workers and employers to compete on a level playing field; more opportunity for our veterans to thrive in the civilian economy; more opportunity for people with disabilities to contribute productively to the workforce; more opportunity to retire with dignity and peace of mind; and more opportunity for people to work in a safe environment and with the full protection of our anti-discrimination laws.

The best way to promote and protect opportunity is through collaboration, consensus-building and pragmatic problem-solving. Throughout nearly 30 years in public service, I have approached tough challenges by making room for as many people as possible around the table in search of common ground. That’s how I will continue to do business as secretary of labor.

When you tackle problems by listening to all stakeholders, you eliminate the kind of zero-sum false choices that have too often dominated our politics in recent years. I believe we can and we must work together on policy solutions that are both are pro-business and pro-worker. I believe we’re making a mistake if we regard job creation and job safety as mutually exclusive or inherently in conflict; they can and they must go hand-in-hand.  We must look for the win-win solutions that create more opportunity for everyone.

I know that none of this will be possible without the diligence, experience and expertise of the men and women of the Labor Department – more than 17,000 strong in Washington, across the country and around the world.  The spine of DOL is its dedicated career staff, and I look forward to working with and learning from them.

I am proud to start this job at such a pivotal moment for working people, our economy and the entire nation.  I look forward to carrying on the great work of the U.S. Department of Labor, executing a mission that is as important as ever.

Editor’s note: This was cross-posted in the Huffington Post.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Edgar Lindo July 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I have a question, and I am not sure who to direct it to, but here it goes: According to the immigration reform efforts the economy will be stimulated by giving legal work to illegal immigrants as they will be able to pay taxes and spend more money in the economy with a legal higher paid job… I totally agree in this concept… with that in mind… How would it work with legal immigrants working on a limited jobs such as foreign women coming to America to work as babysitters?? If we take the concept of immigration reform, then a worker guess program such as foreign women coming to work to babysit for mostly upper class families is not good for the economy. Most of these women become part of class inequality in your community regardless if they are foreign or Americans.. they only get paid a faction of the money, and the money isn’t being circulated in the economy.. If we are taking immigration reform seriously, then a program like this is counter productive for society.. and surely there are enough people in the child care industry in the USA to be able to provide these services at a proper price..

2 Christine L. Howden July 23, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Congratulations on your position. I wish you nothing but success.

I am an extremely motivated professional working toward evolving my skills to align with mentoring and coaching America’s workforce. I am dedicated to meeting and exceeding the diverse needs of America’s workers and employers.

I wholeheartedly believe that our Government is doing everything they can to “grow our economy so every American who wants work can find a job.”

“That means more opportunity for workers to acquire the skills they need to succeed”

I believe that there are many opportunities. Initiatives such as SCANS, WIRED, WIA and Workforce One etc. provide these opportunities. I believe one hurdle is communication. Individuals, including our youth, are not aware of the services available to them such as career exploration, skills assessments, training, workshops, apprenticeships, education, grants and more. There are many initiatives, acts, and professional workforce employees that provide individuals with information to help identify the best employment fit so they can lead self-sufficient, fulfilling lives.

This is where I believe the next hurdle lies. Some individuals may need hands-on or one-on-one mentoring and coaching. Writing resumes, job searching, interviewing, etc. is a skill in itself. Many need specific assistance other than being directed to “research the internet”. The Internet can be a very scary tool for many individuals. I am extremely technically savvy and I’ve struggled with many of the sites that will assist and benefit job seekers.

I worked with a neighbor, single mom, who had been collecting Public Assistance for just under 1 year. Knowing this young woman for many years, she approached me for help. Together, we critiqued her resume, made changes, and discussed reasons for the changes. Discussing her previous position responsibilities lead to transferable skills we were able to incorporate into her resume. We spent some time on mock interviewing where I was able to coach her on how to communicate a bit differently during her interview and why. I also inspired her to reach for the stars when deciding on which jobs to apply for. In less than 3 weeks, she had a job and was able to stop collecting public assistance.

I think your right on target with “pragmatic problem-solving”.
We need to tweak our existing programs, processes and initiatives where there is a breakdown. Let’s make what we already have WORK !!!

“Opportunity for workers and employers to compete on a level playing field” I converse with people everyday who are very happy collecting Public Assistance and UI Benefits until they are no longer available. I have a suggestion that would definitely hinder this injustice. Truly, does every job opening require a college degree ? No, it does not. If this was somehow addressed, I would not still be unemployed moving into thirteen months.

3 Daniel V. Yager July 24, 2013 at 11:43 am

Mr. Secretary:
Congratulations on your new position, and we wish you well on the challenges you face. As the president of an association representing the chief human resource officers of over 350 of the largest companies doing business in the United States, I find your blog very refreshing and welcome your offer to search for “common ground” in a collaborative, consensus-building manner. We recently sent you a letter reiterating our offer to engage in such a process in the area of affirmative action by federal contractors regarding individuals with disabilities in compliance with Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The letter is similar to one sent to your predecessor and is a response to proposed rules by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which are simply unworkable and do not meet the standard of “pragmatic problem-solving” that you establish in your blog. We are encouraged by your comments and hope we can receive a positive response to our offer.

Our letter is available at: http://www.hrpolicy.org/downloads/2013/13-57_Letter_to_Perez_CHRO_Views.pdf

Daniel V. Yager
President
HR Policy Association

4 Laura L Dawson July 26, 2013 at 8:44 am

I would like to add my voice to the letter sent by Daniel V. Yager, President of HR Policy Association, July 24, 2013, in which he has opened issues related to the employment regulations that are used to maintain hiring numbers of the disabled population. While the author’s concerns are not specific enough within the document but related documents under Secretary Perez’s professional obligations, it is my hope that this important gap in understanding will be addressed. As a employable, capable, disabled person with an advanced degree in alternative medicine. a GPA of 3.5 from a Dept of Education approved college, I have not been able to find work in my field of expertise and am one of the larger ‘Unemployed Disabled Population’ statics. If we are putting more restrictions on employers hire a disabled person, I hope that a financial incentive will be made in order that they may comply. Who knows, maybe they will hire another person with that incentive money to provide oversight accountability?

5 Professor John N. Raudabaugh July 31, 2013 at 10:20 am

Congratulations Secretary Perez as you begin your leadership of the U.S. Department of Labor’s second century. Of the many issues confronting our world of work, please consider the issues of identifying (1) critical skills for the ever-changing workplace as impacted by technology and global competition, (2) best practices in delivering workplace training, (3) sourcing specific training to quality providers, (4) informing our young people and current workforce of needed skills related to work opportunities, and (5) forums for continuing conversations with employers across all industries regarding these matters. Equally important is the need for engagement of employers, employees, and the Department of Labor to change the focus from “shaming” to “applauding” by highlighting best practices. Enforcing the law is critical but highlighting best practices and achievers incentivizes not only compliance but motivates discussion of new ideas and contributions to our nation’s overall success in our global marketplace.
Sincerely,
John N. Raudabaugh
Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law
Ave Maria School of Law

6 Bruce Cowan September 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Finally about time The Activity and Upgrade of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 but will this make the promote Schedule A Employment Progam a requirement.

Schedule A Hiring Authority/Schedule A Employment Program
What is the Schedule A Hiring Authority? The Schedule A Hiring Authority allows for the expedited, non-competitive hiring of qualified individuals with disabilities for federal positions.
Non-Competitive Hiring Authorities – Federal agencies are required to promote (HELP) equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities. To accelerate this process, agencies can use special hiring authorities as one strategy for recruiting and hiring qualified individuals.
How does Schedule A Work? Once a prospective candidate is identified, a hiring manager, Selective Placement Coordinator (SPC), or a Disability Program Manager (DPM) contacts HR for help in getting the applicant on board. Next, HR consults with the manager and/or the SPC/DPM to decide the type of appointment to be offered. Once this is determined, a conditional offer contingent upon receipt of Schedule A qualifying documentation can be extended to the candidate. NOT A Requirement
Important note: The hiring manager should not be involved in the disability documentation process, as medical documentation must be kept strictly confidential.

US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9
Presently Schedule A is a noncompetitive and hiring authority use for agencies to promote (help or encourage) the hiring of individuals with disabilities but until it becomes a requirement or must hire individuals with disabilities it will not work.
Since May 1990 when I received B.S. degree in Environmental Science and Occupational Health (Emphasis Industl.Hygiene), I have been trying to use Special Disability Employment Programs with no success on Calif. LEAP, Ticket-to-Work Program, and Schedule A with the no success includes Federal EPA Schedule A, Cal EPA, Air Resources Board, other federal agencies. I believe my disability causes my bachelor degree and experience for Cal EPA, Air Resources Board mean nothing. On 03/93 to 10/94, I received 1.7 years of Volunteer Air Pollution Specialist experience with Cal EPA, State Air Resources Board, Mobile Source Control Division, but ARB never wanted to hire me passing two tests with high ranks for Air Pollution Specialist.

On 04-11-2013 to 07-18-2013, for Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9; I was reviewed and again rejected to Schedule A Entry Level Environmental Engineer and Entry Level Environmental Protection Specialist Employment Opportunities. HR professionals will consult with the manager and/or the SPC/DPM to decide what type of appointment is to be offered. I passed the applicant review by EPA’s Human Resources and Philip Kum Management Analyst/Schedule A Program Coordinator. Therefore, my complaint concludes the application review for interview and employment by the Managers blocked and discriminated me based on Disability Epilepsy.

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