Obama Nominates Pro-Worker Attorney for Secretary of Labor


March 18, 2013

IBEW leaders are praising President Obama’s March18 nomination of civil-rights attorney Thomas Perez for Secretary of Labor.


Says IBEW President Edwin D. Hill:

Thomas Perez is the right choice to help continue to work of outgoing Secretary Hilda Solis in making the Department of Labor a leading force for workers’ rights, safety on the job, and high-skilled training. With workers’ rights increasingly under attack, it’s good to have a labor secretary who understands that his No. 1 job is to uphold working standards and uplift working families.

Perez, an assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights, has a long history of advocacy for workers’ and civil rights. He previously served as Maryland’s secretary of labor where he fought for tougher regulations to end workplace fraud and helped boost the number of apprenticeship programs.

Baltimore Local 24 Business Manager Roger Lash, who served under Perez as director of the state’s apprentice and training program, says:

Tom is a no-nonsense person who really cares about working people. He’s a great choice. He’s also a supporter of progressive, get-it-done government. He really held our feet to the fire to make the department work smoothly and efficiently

In Maryland, Perez worked against the practice of misclassification of workers as independent contractors, which costs workers and taxpayers millions of dollars each year. He was one of the driving forces behind the 2009 Workplace Fraud Act, which provided for tougher penalties for employee misclassification.  

Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council President Rod Easter, who is also a Local 24 member:

Perez is the best choice for working people, no question. He supports our values – fair play, inclusion and good jobs.

The son of Dominican immigrants, Perez worked in the civil rights division of the Justice Department in the 1980s. Leaving the federal government in 2001, he went on to win a seat on the Montgomery County Council, a suburb of Washington D.C. During his tenure on the council, he was known for his vocal support of workers’ rights.

As the Baltimore Sun reports:

George Leventhal, a Democratic member of the council, recalled a 2004 case in which he and Perez were subpoenaed by Comcast for their support of an employee who was fired by the cable company for trying to unionize about 300 employees. Comcast later dropped the case and reinstated the employee.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice