President Obama today announced that he has chosen Thomas Perez, the head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to be the next Secretary of Labor. Speaking in the East Room of the White House, the President introduced Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants and a lawyer who helped pay his way through college by working as a garbage collector, to the American people.
"His story reminds us of this country’s promise, that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your last name is -- you can make it if you try," President Obama said. "And Tom has made protecting that promise -- for everybody -- the cause of his life."
The President reminded those gathered for the announcement of the three questions he believes all officials should ask themselves every day -- How do we make sure America is a magnet for good jobs? How do we equip people with the skills they need to get those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work actually pays off in a decent living? -- and said that Perez has already shown his commitment to answering those questions in his work at the Justice Department, where he fought to open pathways into the workforce for everyone willing to contribute and helped settle some of the largest cases ever on behalf of families targeted by unfair mortgage lending.
Prior to joining the team at DOJ, Perez was Maryland's Secretary of Labor, where he helped implement the country’s first statewide living-wage law, because, the President said, "he understood that a minimum wage should be a wage that you can live on."
Describing Perez as a "consensus builder" who has worked with CEOs and labor leaders at federal, state, and local government levels who understands that our economy works best when the middle class and those working to get into the middle class have the security they need on the job and a democratic voice in the workplace, President Obama asked the Senate to confirm his nominee "as quickly as possible."