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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Office of Management and Budget Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration
“Heritage, Diversity, Integrity and Honor: The Renewed Hope of America”
Washington, DC
Friday, October 15, 2010

Good afternoon... buenas tardes!

Jeff (Zients)... thank you for your kind introduction.

It's wonderful to be with all of you as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month... and what a better way to celebrate than to be back at a place where I use to work.

In the 80s I was working here as a budget analyst and it feels good to be back, but more importantly to see more Latinos here.

You know, when I decided to move to Washington, D.C. to do my internship here at the White House and later to work here... it was a difficult decision for me because my family was in L.A.

But had I not taken that risk, I would not have learned many things I know today, or met wonderful people that guided me in the right direction.

Now that I look back; the sacrifice was all worth it!

Now... some of you may be in that situation right now.

But I want to remind you — opportunities are about taking risks and opening new doors.

This administration needs you!

The work you are all doing is historic!

Our work with this administration will be written in the history books and you are part of it.

You assumed responsibilities here at the White House at a time when the country was heading towards another great depression and if you recently came on-board, you have joined a team that is now helping this country improve.

People may not recognize it right now, but it's impressive what President Obama and this administration have done in the last 20 months!

The steps we are taking and the job you are doing on a daily basis is clearly leading to positive results.

In the six months before the President Barack Obama took office, we lost nearly 4 million jobs in this country; however, today we are talking about job gains!!

Just since the beginning of this year we've added more than 800,000 jobs in the private sector.

In our latest jobs report, we saw job growth in the leisure and hospitality sector, retail, health care, transportation, private business, and more.

And I'm proud to say that the programs at the Department of Labor have helped over a million people obtain employment within the 3 months of completing job training.

Our programs include: The National Emergency Grant; Older Youth; Adult Workforce Investment Act; Dislocated Worker and others.

Even though we don't create jobs at the Labor Department, we do help prepare people with the skills they need to enter or re-enter the workforce.

And what has been successful for the job seekers we work with is: our partnerships with educational institutions, businesses, and community organizations across the country.

We even have an online tool that matches a person's skills with potential employers.

You can find all of that information at: www.myskillsmyfuture.com.

So the job of getting our economy on the solid footing again cannot be done alone.

The White House cannot do it alone; the Labor Department cannot do it alone.

Now more than ever, the communication and partnership with all of you and with other cabinet members and agencies will be crucial.

Our collaboration is what's helping us gradually see a difference in our economy and it is felt in the lives of everyday people.

We know that many people hurting economically these days, are undereducated, have low skills, and are at a disadvantage in many ways... but our job is to help them be in a better situation soon.

That's exactly why at the Labor Department; we are investing in job training programs specifically geared towards low-income families such as “Pathways Out of Poverty”.

It's a program that helps disadvantaged populations find ways out of poverty and become self-sufficient through employment such as learning a new job skill to enter the renewable energy industry.

In addition, we have 124 job training locations across the nation — known as Job Corps -- specifically for young adults that need a second change to obtain a diploma or GED.

And we also have 3,000 “One-Stop-Centers” nationwide.

Adults can go to these offices to receive employment information, job training, housing information, and some locations even offer food vouchers and English as a second language courses.

All of these programs I've mentioned are free.

Other programs and grants we have in place help veterans, women, at risk-youth, people who are or were incarcerated, farm workers, people working in unions, people older than 50, business owners... the list goes on.

Not only are we helping train or retrain people across the nation but we are also the second largest enforcement agency after the Departmentof Justice.

We are now issuing the largest fines in history, because I really mean that a person should not lose his or her life at work.

And I've made sure to hire hundreds of bilingual investigators and operators who can speak Spanish, Vietnamese, and many other languages.

It's important that workers not fear speaking up due to language barriers or fear of being fired; that's what we're trying to change.

This is especially unacceptable when people are losing their life at work because they don't know or understand worker safety standards.

And we know that more Latinos lose their life at work, than any other ethnic group.

That is just unacceptable to me!

We've initiated campaigns to combat these problems.

One of them is called We Can Help -- Podemos Ayudar.

It's a multilingual national campaign to educate workers about their workplace rights and to provide them with support to report wage violations.

For the first time in history, the Labor Department hosted an OSHA Health and Safety Summit.

We had a very successful event in Houston, Texas, with over one thousand employees and employers from various fields of work.

I'm happy to tell you that things are now changing, slowly, but improving.

Since I came to the Labor Department, deaths at the workplace have gone down.

The National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries recently reported a decline of workers killed on the job in 2009 compared to the year before.

Before, we averaged 14 deaths a day; now there are 12 fatalities a day.

But the job does not end here though; this just means we have a lot more work to do!

I have many plans for a better future and better working conditions for everyone in this country.

My team and I work under the phrase, “good and safe jobs for everyone.”

I am optimistic that better days are to come.

I am honored to be working for this administration.

I am proud of our work to help the working men and women in this country with better pay, safe workplaces, access to health care, and a better future for themselves and their families.

But, I believe that what holds all of us together can be explained in one word, which is included in your theme: “hope.”

Many of us see all of you and the generation right behind us as the “hope” for tomorrow.

Let's all continue working hard and bringing forward great ideas that will help us lead to bigger goals.

We have thousands of youth dropping out of high school every day; they need you.

They need mentors like you.

We have yet to pass comprehensive immigration reform and other legislation that will help people across the nation live the American Dream.

Tenemos mucho trabajo, pero “Si Se Puede”... Yes We Can!

We can do this.

Remember the words of a wise man -- Cesar Chavez:

"There's no turning back...We will win. We are winning because ours is a revolution of mind and heart.”

Together we'll keep winning and together we will continue to usher in the hope and change we all believe in.

Thank you for having me here today!

Muchas gracias.