At Confirmation Hearing, Labor Secretary Nominee Tom Perez Says Top Priority Will Be Jobs, Training

Categories: Economic Security, News

During a confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee today, Tom Perez made clear that his top priority as U.S. Secretary of Labor would be working with all sides in helping American workers obtain the training and support they need to win good jobs in the U.S. economy.

“The Department of Labor plays a critical role in ensuring people have the skills to succeed in a 21st century economy, and that an honest day’s work in a safe working environment leads to a decent living,” said Perez in his opening remarks.

Perez, who has compiled an impressive record as Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws on voting, hate crime, fair housing and disability rights, also received recognition at the hearing for his fair and open-minded approach while serving as Maryland Labor Secretary. As HELP Committee Chairmen Sen. Tom Harkin, D.-Iowa, noted during the hearing, Perez’s “outstanding work in Maryland has won him the support of the business community and worker advocates alike” and prompted the Maryland Chamber of Commerce to endorse him and write that “Despite differences of opinion, Mr. Perez was always willing to allow all parties to be heard and we found him to be fair and collaborative.”

In particular, Perez highlighted working in broad, bipartisan fashion for reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act as a key policy objective he would pursue as Labor Secretary. He also talked about the need to ensure that job training programs are both “agile” and “responsive” and designed to meet the needs of real employers, and especially small- and medium-sized employers.

The son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Perez also talked about his faith in the American Dream, the dignity of work, and his belief that government can play a positive role in helping people rise and be successful. “I was also fortunate that the federal government invested in my future,” Perez said. “With the help of Pell grants, work study jobs, and other scholarships, I was able to attend Brown University, Harvard Law School, and the Kennedy School of Government.”

President Obama nominated Perez to succeed Hilda Solis, who served distinctively as Secretary of Labor during president’s first term.

The Leadership Conference has joined more than 80 other civil and human rights organizations representing a wide range of Americans in supporting Tom Perez to be next U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Learn more about Tom Perez’s nomination by visiting