Thomas Perez may lead labor in United States into an exciting future, if he is confirmed as Secretary of the US Labor Department. Good diversity news, and also deep partisanship, came to the news forefront on Monday, when President Barack Obama nominated the US Justice Department’s alum to the position of Secretary in the US Department of Labor.
Perez’s heritage is Dominican, making him the first Latino nominee to a cabinet position, which garners praise from diversity advocates on both sides of the political spectrum. This nomination also drew immediate criticism from Republican lawmakers, and will likely certainly spark new debate about how labor is best governed, and by whom.
Mr. Perez has worked with the Justice Department since 2009, as the Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Director at the Department of Justice. According to his bio on VoteSmart, 51-year-old Perez is a graduate of Harvard Law School, studied Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and received his BA from Brown University in Political Science/International Studies.
Obama outlined some of Perez’s impressive credentials this morning in his announcement, showing his candidate to be an accomplished advocate for all types of workers in the rapidly changing American labor force. The President told members of the press: “As a civil rights attorney, an aide to Senator Ted Kennedy, a member of the Montgomery, Maryland County Council, Tom fought for a level playing field where hard work and responsibility are rewarded and working families can get ahead.”
Several Republican critics leaned on an unfavorable internal investigation about the Justice Department’s voting rights section to express their unhappiness with Obama’s choice of nominee. Regarding this report, The Washington Post explained earlier this month, he was actually a catalyst for improvement within the Justice Department, helping the agency push inefficiency further into the past.
In the time leading up to the confirmation hearings of Thomas Perez, liberals and conservatives alike will certainly learn more about this accomplished and progressive leader, continue to redefine the middle class, and hopefully find common ground in the needs and rights of America’s workers.
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